Posted: 06/16/2016

3 Ways to Treat Narcolepsy

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Narcolepsy is a neurological sleep disorder that affects the body’s ability to control sleep and wake cycles. There are currently 200,000 people in the U.S. living with narcolepsy, and it estimated that only 25% of those individuals are officially diagnosed with the disorder. The most common symptom of narcolepsy is excessive daytime sleepiness and fatigue throughout the day.

Diagnosis for narcolepsy involves participating in a sleep study that helps monitor sleep cycles, breathing patterns, and other body functions. Unfortunately there is not a single treatment that will cure the condition in all cases. There are, however, treatments that help to keep the effects of narcolepsy from interfering in daily activities.

Three Treatment Options for Narcolepsy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: This type of therapy involves changing thoughts and actions that affect an individual’s ability to sleep. One of the methods used by doctors on narcolepsy patients is stimulus control, which limits the use of the bed to sleep and sex only. The objective of stimulus control is to retrain the brain to only associate the bed with sleep and sex. Relaxation treatment is also another therapy that helps the individual with narcolepsy by training them to relax muscles, control breathing, and even master mental focus to help regulate sleeping patterns.

Narcolepsy Medications: Other treatment options for patients with narcolepsy are medications that increase alertness during the day, and reduce fatigue and sudden urges to fall asleep. Stimulant drugs like Nuvigil  can be used in patients with narcolepsy under the guidance of a sleep doctor. Stimulant drugs must be used with extreme caution because of the risk of becoming addicted to these types of treatments. While the long-term effects of stimulant drugs are unknown, the short-term risks for heart problems and trouble breathing are something to consider and discuss with a medical professional.


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Sleep Hygiene: Preparing an adequate sleeping environment is essential to regulating sleep patterns. Helping the body’s circadian rhythm by dressing beds with cool cotton fibers is a good starting point. Before sleeping, patients with narcolepsy should avoid watching television or staring at electronic devices that emit harsh blue light that can disrupt healthy sleeping cycles. As with cognitive therapy, using the bed for only sleep and sex is essential. Setting the room temperature lower at night is anther way to help the body regulate thermal responses. As your body wakes in the morning, internal temperatures naturally rise as the day progresses. At night, it is ideal to set room temperatures lower (around 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit) to allow the body to prepare for full sleep cycles. 

Seeking the advice of a sleep doctor is the best way to determine the best treatment option for narcolepsy. The solution to your narcolepsy may involve a combination of therapies, including stimulants, depending on the severity of the condition. Another way to improve narcolepsy is by diagnosing and treating other medical conditions such as obstructive sleep apnea and cardiovascular diseases that can complicate the condition over time. 

By HelpRx Staff Writer

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About the HelpRx.info Blog

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