Learning More About Narcolepsy

Narcolepsy is a chronic sleep disorder characterized by overwhelming daytime drowsiness and sudden attacks of sleep. People with narcolepsy fall asleep without warning, anywhere, anytime. When they awaken, they may feel refreshed, but eventually get sleepy again. Narcolepsy can drastically affect a person’s quality of life and can result in physical harm to themselves or others.

 There are two forms of narcolepsy: Type 1 narcolepsy is when sudden attacks of sleep are accompanied by a loss of muscle tone.  Type 2 narcolepsy occurs with no loss in muscle tone.

In addition to sudden attacks of sleep, some of the signs and symptoms of narcolepsy include:

  • Decreased alertness and focus – Excessive daytime sleepiness makes it difficult for individuals to concentrate and fully function.
  • Sudden loss of muscle tone – This condition, called cataplexy can cause a number of physical changes, from slurred speech to complete weakness of most muscles, and may last up to a few minutes.
  • Sleep paralysis – People with narcolepsy often experience a temporary inability to move or speak while falling asleep or upon waking. These episodes are usually brief, lasting a few seconds or minutes.
  • Hallucinations – Hallucinations may occur while sleeping or while awake. These hallucinations may be particularly vivid and frightening because the person experiencing them may believe they are reality.

Narcolepsy symptoms typically begin anywhere between ten and thirty years of age. Symptoms may worsen for the first few years and then continue for life. People with narcolepsy may also have other sleep disorders, such as obstructive sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome and even insomnia.

While the exact cause of narcolepsy is unknown, research has revealed that people with type 1 narcolepsy have low levels of the chemical hypocretin, which is an important neurochemical in your brain that helps regulate wakefulness and REM sleep. Those with a family history of narcolepsy have a greater risk of developing it.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for narcolepsy however medications and lifestyle changes can help manage the symptoms.  It is recommended that you see a doctor if you experience excessive daytime sleepiness that disrupts your personal life.

Jamaica Hospital’s Sleep Center treats individuals with a wide variety of sleep disorders. Please call 718-206-5916 to schedule an appointment.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Can Too Much Sleep Be Bad For Your Health?

“You have to get enough sleep if you want to stay healthy.” It’s a common phrase that emphasizes how important getting enough sleep is to our overall well-being. So if sleep is that important, it would make sense that the more we get of it, the better we will feel. However, the idea that there is no such thing as getting “too much sleep” is one that is totally wrong.  In fact, chronic oversleeping can lead to a wide variety of health issues.

While the recommended amount of sleep for adults varies based on age, activity level, and lifestyle habits, generally speaking, most adults should get an average of between seven and nine hours of sleep every night.  Sure, it’s okay to sleep in a little late on the weekends, but if you find yourself requiring over nine hours of sleep on a consistent basis, or feel that you don’t feel well–rested when you don’t, it may be a sign of a another issue.

For some, oversleeping could be due to a condition known as hypersomnia, which causes people to require unusually long periods of sleep at night and suffer from extreme sleepiness throughout the day.  Those with hypersomnia also have low levels of energy, experience problems remembering things and do not feel recharged from a nap like the rest of us do.

Hypersomnia is not the only reason one might require extra sleep. Other reasons may include the use of certain substances, such as alcohol or some prescription medications. Obstructive sleep apnea may also be another reason why someone needs more sleep as those with this condition have their sleep cycles obstructed, making them feel less rested.  Lastly, depression is another leading cause for oversleep in many individuals as those who are clinically depressed are more lethargic and more likely to want to stay in bed.

Regardless of the reason why someone sleeps too much, the condition needs to be addressed as studies have indicated that oversleep can lead to many other health problems, including:

  • Diabetes
  • Heart Disease
  • Stroke
  • Obesity
  • Headaches
  • Back Pain
  • Depression
  • Cognitive Impairment
  • Fertility Issues

In addition to, or perhaps as a result of these other issues, those who oversleep have been found to have higher death rates than people who sleep seven to nine hours a night.

If you are oversleeping, it is important to address the reason why. If it is caused by alcohol or prescription medications, look to cut back or eliminate those substances from your daily routine. If you think you are oversleeping due to depression seek help from a mental health professional. Likewise, if you have been diagnosed with hypersomnia or another medical condition, treating the disorder may help you return to a normal night’s sleep.

You should also look to ensure that the sleep you get is restful by practicing good sleep habits. Try to establish a set bedtime and wake-up time, avoid eating a heavy meal or consuming caffeine before bed, and maintain a comfortable sleep environment. Exercising before bed can also help you relax and fall asleep easier.

Jamaica Hospital offers a comprehensive sleep center, which diagnoses and treats a wide variety of sleep disorders.  If you believe you require too much sleep, we can help you figure out why. To make an appointment at our Sleep Center, call 718-206-5916.

 

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Power Napping

It has been proven that taking a power nap during the day has many benefits. A nap can lower blood pressure and also reduce the level of stress.

Research has shown that the benefits of a midday power nap are determined by the length of the time a person spends napping. A nap that lasts 20 minutes will help alertness and will also increase motor function. Naps that last 30 to 60 minutes will improve decision-making skills, and a nap that lasts 60 to 90 minutes will improve the ability to solve creative problems. Most people will only be able to take a short nap. A person who naps longer than 20 or 30 minutes runs the risk of waking up and feeling groggy.

If your typical day starts at 7:00 AM and you go to bed for the night around 11:00 PM, then napping between 1:30 and 3:00 PM is when you will benefit from a power nap the most.

If you are having difficulty getting a good night’s sleep, specialists at Jamaica Hospital’s Sleep Center can conduct sleep studies to help determine the causes of your sleep deprivation. To schedule an appointment for an evaluation, please call 718-206-5916

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

It’s Sleep Awareness Week – Learn How Important Sleep is to Your Health

The keys to a healthy lifestyle are eating right, exercise, and what’s the third thing?  Oh yes, sleep. While we give a great deal of attention to the first two, the importance of a good night’s sleep is often overlooked.

Serene woman sleeping at night

April 23rd through April 29th has been designated Sleep Awareness Week and Jamaica Hospital Medical Center and the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) want to raise awareness and educate the community about how important sleep is to each and every one of us. While most of us understand the importance of getting a good night’s sleep, we often do not make sleep a priority.

To raise awareness, the NSF has created an advocacy campaign entitled “Sleep Better. Feel Better. ” It centers around highlighting the many benefits sleep has on our body and mind and reminds everyone how vital sleep is to our overall health and well-being. Sleep aids our heart, brain, lungs, and muscles and has many other benefits including:

  • Improved immunity
  • Decreased pain
  • Increased alertness
  • Lower risk of injury
  • Improved memory
  • Better mood

The NSF recommends that adults receive seven to nine hours of sleep each night. They also provide the following tips to ensure a restful night’s sleep.

  • Stick to a sleep schedule of the same bedtime and wake up time, even on the weekends.
  • Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual.  Try to separate your sleep time from activities that can cause excitement, stress or anxiety; a lot of which can make it more difficult to fall asleep.
  • If you have trouble sleeping, avoid naps, especially in the afternoon. Napping may help you during the day, but it can interfere with your ability to sleep at night
  • Avoid drinking any caffeinated beverages at least five to six hours before bed.
  • Exercise daily. Vigorous exercise is best, but even light exercise is better than no activity.
  • Evaluate your sleep environment. Remove any noisy distractions, eliminate bright lights and set a comfortable temperature to optimize your sleep.
  • Sleep on a comfortable mattress and  Make sure your mattress is supportive.

If you still have trouble falling asleep or getting a restful night’s sleep, you should speak with your doctor as there may be an underlining medical issue. Jamaica Hospital operates a state-of-the-art sleep center that can help diagnose and treat a variety of sleep disorders. For more information, or to make an appointment, please call 718-206-5916.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.