Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder also known as gelineau syndrome or sleep epilepsy. It is not a very common disorder among adults, it occurs in a percentage that ranges between 0.02 and 0.16% of the population, and affects men and women equally. The main symptom of this disorder is excessive daytime sleepiness.
In addition, there are cases in which cataplexy appears, that is, the patient has episodes during the day when he suddenly loses muscle tone. This sudden sagging muscle causes the person to fall. Other symptoms of narcolepsy are hypnagogic, hypnopompic hallucinations and sleep paralysis. Hypnagogic hallucinations are auditory, visual or tactile hallucinations, which occur before the onset of sleep. The term “hypnogogic” refers to the transition period between wakefulness and sleep. The person who has these hallucinations thinks he is awake, with his eyes open, listening and seeing everything around, but with his body immobilized. Hypnopompic hallucinations have the same characteristics but occur at the stage of transition from sleep to wakefulness, that is, when we are waking up. Sleep paralysis is also observed in the process of transition from wakefulness to sleep and from sleep to wakefulness, that is, when you are just sleeping or when you are waking up.
“It is a normal mechanism of the body, which is activated to prevent the person from moving when experiencing their dream dreams”.
Hallucinations and sleep paralysis do not in themselves constitute a pathology and it is common for them to occur in people’s sleep, but they can occur at the wrong time and be associated with narcolepsy, which constitutes a disorder. People with narcolepsy have the order and duration of disturbed sleep periods. MOR sleep (when we have dream dreams) occurs at the beginning of sleep, when it would be normal for it to occur after a period of NO MOR sleep (deeper sleep and less brain activity). The symptoms we mentioned, cataplexy and hallucinations, are normal characteristics of MOR sleep, but in narcolepsy, these occur at times when they should not occur. We have already seen that cataplexy occurs when the patient is awake and hallucinations when he is sleeping or waking up. The patient’s brain does not then go through the normal phases of sleep, which brings several negative effects that affect the patient’s health.
People with this disorder quickly fall into what appears to be a very deep sleep, when in reality their nighttime sleep does not include enough sleep time NOT MOR , so the brain will try to compensate for the lack during the day. Narcoleptics wake up suddenly and feel disoriented, they have very vivid dreams that they commonly remember. It is not common for the patient suffering from narcolepsy to suffer all four symptoms at the same time. The only symptom that always repeats itself is excessive daytime sleepiness, and secondly, in 80% of cases, cataplexy appears to some degree. Only 10% of patients also add hallucinations and sleep paralysis to symptoms, but this is because the person often does not remember these episodes.