The hardships relating to sleep associated with narcolepsy patients

People with narcolepsy experience an increased amount of lucid dreams and nightmares, hallucinations, have higher dream recall and undergo cataplexy, a state of sudden paralysis of voluntary muscles, compared to healthy people. As people know, sleep is one of the most important aspects of life and getting good sleep is vital to succeeding in your waking lives.

People with narcolepsy experience many hardships related to sleep, causing them to live a more stressful life. Nathaniel Kletiman (1987) defined narcolepsy as, “One of the most suggestive spontaneous disruptions of the normal sleep-wakefulness rhythm” and is “characterized by repeated sudden brief attacks of sleep, occurring during the customary waking hours of the individual, usually but not always associated with attacks of muscular tonelessness known as cataplexy” (p. 233). 

In this research paper, two studies regarding dream characteristics of narcolepsy patients are explained and used to argue why narcoleptic patients experience many hardships related to sleeping and dreaming. In the study titled, Increased Lucid Dreaming Frequency in Narcolepsy Patients, it was highlighted how narcoleptics experience a higher frequency of nightmares compared to healthy patients. Due to this, they also experience lucid dreams more often. They experience fragmented sleep during the night time because of this, causing them to get a worse night’s sleep than healthy patients. They also often experience very vivid and dreamlike hallucinations during the night as well as during random sleep attacks during the day. Their day is often disrupted multiple times by sudden attacks of extreme sleepiness. More information can be found regarding these two studies at the following links, https://academic.oup.com/sleep/article/38/3/487/2416990?searchresult=1 and https://academic.oup.com/sleep/article/38/5/787/2416994?searchresult=1#125084850

Another hardship narcolepsy patients have to deal with daily is the possibility of experiencing cataplexy at any time. Cataplexy is, “a brief episode of bilateral weakness without altered consciousness that is usually brought on by excitement or emotion” (Aldrich, 1999, p. 155). This means they might experience drooping of the face and limbs, slurred speech and it can even make them fall to the ground. This is very serious and narcolepsy patients have to worry about it happening at all times. 

Cataplexy

It should be known how narcoleptics have many disruptions in their sleep and dreams which cause hardships in their daily lives. It is important for all people to be educated about this disorder and to understand why it is vital that research is continued so that one-day narcoleptics may not have to suffer from hallucinations, cataplexy, nightmares, lucid dreaming and much more anymore. 

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