When I was diagnosed with narcolepsy in high school, my doctor was blunt: “Your life is going to change,” he said. And it did. My diagnosis meant that my family had to be more understanding of my need for sleep, and at times I had to explain myself when people questioned why I took so many naps. Because we’re conditioned not to sleep during the day when we’re awake and working, it can take time for people around us to understand that naps are an essential part of managing narcolepsy.
“Narcolepsy is no joke,” she said.
I know that narcolepsy is a chronic illness. I know it’s not a joke, and I’m not laughing.
I also know that narcolepsy doesn’t mean you’re lazy or weak. When your brain can’t regulate sleep/wake cycles like it should, you don’t have much control over when you fall asleep—or how often. You’ll likely feel exhausted all the time even though you’re getting enough sleep at night (because of cataplexy). Narcoleptics need more sleep than the average person, but they may still experience periods of insomnia throughout the day due to excessive daytime drowsiness (EDS) or other symptoms of narcolepsy such as sudden muscle weakness or collapse that may occur while sitting up, standing or walking around during waking hours (sleep paralysis).
Another person she had to talk with was her employer, who initially thought she was just lazy.
When you are narcoleptic, you need to be prepared to explain the situation to your employer. You may even have to defend yourself against unfair accusations of laziness or incompetence.
One woman who was diagnosed with narcolepsy after years of struggling with sleep issues began asking her employer for accommodations in the workplace. She explained that she would still be able to do her job well, but it would just take a little longer than the rest of her coworkers. Fortunately for her and other sufferers like her, this woman had an understanding boss who understood the importance of helping employees through situations like this one (even if they’re not caused by alcohol).
On a typical day, you’ll feel like you’re in a dreamy state.
On a typical day, you’ll feel like you’re in a dreamy state. You may feel like you’re in a dreamy state during the day or night, and this feeling will only intensify when trying to do something important.
In addition to feeling as if you’re in a dreamy state, there are several other symptoms that people with narcolepsy experience. These include:
- Excessive sleepiness
- Sleep attacks (the inability to stay awake)
- Cataplexy (sudden muscle weakness)
If you’ve been diagnosed with narcolepsy, getting adequate sleep can be difficult.
- If you’ve been diagnosed with narcolepsy, getting adequate sleep can be difficult.
Narcolepsy is a chronic neurological disorder that causes excessive daytime sleepiness and episodes of uncontrollable sleep. It’s often misdiagnosed for other conditions, which can make it challenging for patients to receive proper treatment. Narcoleptics may also experience cataplexy (a symptom defined by muscle weakness) and hypnagogic hallucinations (dream-like images). The condition affects about 1 in 2,000 people worldwide—but only 60% of those affected are ever diagnosed.
The peak incidence of being diagnosed with narcolepsy occurs in your teens and 20s.
The peak incidence of being diagnosed with narcolepsy occurs in your teens and 20s, but the condition can occur at any age. Narcolepsy is a lifelong condition and requires ongoing management to ensure you’re getting the best quality of life possible.
If you want to catch up on sleep, focus on quality over quantity
It should come as no surprise that good sleep is important for physical and mental health. But when it comes to napping, quality trumps quantity. That’s because with most people, a nap of 15 or 20 minutes will restore their energy and concentration levels at least as well as getting an hour of uninterrupted sleep. And since naps don’t require lengthy time off from daily activities, they’re more convenient than full nights of rest. If you’re someone who needs to catch up on sleep, focus on making sure your naps are high-quality instead of trying for longer stretches during the day.
The best way to ensure good quality in your naps is by following a few basic rules:
- Set aside time for naps every day—ideally just before lunchtime—and stick to a regular schedule so that you know exactly when they’ll happen each day
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol 4 hours before going to bed (or less if you wake up groggy)
- Don’t take second (or third) helpings of food late at night or right before bedtime; having too much food in your stomach can lead to indigestion which will keep you awake later on
A full night’s sleep isn’t a waste of time for those with narcolepsy.
One of the most important things to realize is that although it may be a struggle to get a full night’s sleep, it is not a waste of time. A full night’s sleep can be very beneficial for people with narcolepsy, and those without it as well.
One way to get the rest you need is by taking medication for your condition. There are many different types of medications available, so talk to your doctor about what might work best for you. You should also make sure that your bedroom is dark and quiet at night so that you can get enough rest without being disturbed by light or noise.
Naps can be helpful for people with narcolepsy.
Naps can be helpful for people with narcolepsy. Naps can help you feel more refreshed, stay alert and focused, and get through the day. How long to nap depends on the individual; if you’re napping at night, it might be a good idea to stop around 4 or 5 p.m., so that your body has time to wind down before bedtime.
If you have trouble falling asleep at night but still want a power nap during the day, try this technique: close your eyes and breathe deeply until your mind is completely calm (you might want to count backwards from 100). Then imagine yourself falling asleep in someone’s arms. Once you feel completely relaxed, open your eyes again and enjoy!
Naps work best when they fit in with your life and routine.
Naps are helpful, but they should be part of your routine. The best naps are short and sweet—the point of a nap is to recharge your batteries, not feel like you’ve been hit by a train. You’ll also want to schedule your nap in advance whenever possible so that it’s easier to fall asleep quickly when you lay down on the couch or bed. Finally, make sure that the same time every day becomes “nap time.” This will help train your body clock so that when the next opportunity arises for a snooze, it’s easier to take advantage of it!
Play an active role in managing your healthcare and expectations about naps.
- You are your own best advocate. Having a good relationship with your doctor is critical to managing your disease, but it’s not enough. You have the ability to manage your own naps and sleep patterns, but it will take time for you to learn how.
- Understand the difference between naps and sleep. A nap is a short period of rest, usually lasting no more than 20 minutes. Naps can be helpful in reducing fatigue during periods when you’re awake (such as after lunch) or preventing sleepiness during other activities like driving or working on projects that require concentration. Napping does not replace the need for nighttime sleep; instead, it serves as an important component of a healthy circadian rhythm—the body’s natural 24-hour cycle—by providing extra rest when needed most during the day or night time respectively
Naps can make life more manageable for people with narcolepsy but not all naps are equal or helpful
Naps can make life more manageable for people with narcolepsy, but not all naps are equal or helpful. It’s important to always play an active role in managing your healthcare and expectations about naps.
In some cases, a person with narcolepsy may have difficulty falling asleep at night even though they don’t feel tired during the day. This is called “sleep onset insomnia”. In some cases, this may mean that you need more than one nap per day – perhaps a short nap in addition to one at home – or longer naps earlier in the afternoon. Napping should be part of your daily routine as much as possible so that it becomes second nature and does not interfere with other activities like studying or working out at the gym.
Many people find it helpful to set aside time each week for planning their sleep schedule and mapping out their schedules for the following week so they don’t forget anything important such as meetings or classes when making plans ahead of time helps reduce stress levels which helps keep symptoms under control better than trying reactively trying reactively every time something comes up unexpectedly!
If you’ve been diagnosed with narcolepsy, getting adequate sleep can be difficult. But naps can help! Naps work best when they fit in with your life and routine. They should also be tailored to your individual needs, so talk to your doctor about what options might work best for you.