Do you know of anyone who is always sleepy? And when I say sleepy, I mean excessive daytime sleepiness. It’s like they pull an all-nighter every single day.
Maybe you have a friend or a relative who just dozes off all the time.
For sure this person has always been a topic of conversation. He or she has always been thought of as rude, lazy, or irresponsible.
But what if this person is actually suffering from a sleep disorder?
Sleep disorder causing excessive daytime sleepiness
Excessive daytime sleepiness can be due to a sleep disorder called narcolepsy, wherein the brain is unable to regulate one’s sleep cycle.
While excessive daytime sleepiness is a predominant characteristic, other symptoms of narcolepsy may include:
- sleep paralysis or the inability to move when waking up or falling asleep
- hallucinations, usually since their dreams are quite vivid and seem to be real
- disrupted sleep or the tendency to awaken many times during the night, and
- cataplexy or the loss of muscle control, usually triggered by strong emotions like anger or laughter.
How narcolepsy affects a person’s life
Narcolepsy can have a huge impact on a person’s day-to-day life.
Sleeping when in the middle of a lecture, for instance, makes a person miss out a lot in school, particularly when their teachers are not familiar with it.
The same thing can happen at work. People suffering from narcolepsy might find it difficult to perform at their best. Their constant napping during work hours could easily cost them their job if their employers do not have a policy that’s supportive of conditions like narcolepsy.
Aside from productivity and performance, safety is also another thing narcoleptics are concerned about. Dozing off while driving can definitely put themselves and other people at risk. They need to make sure they only drive when they can even if it means being late or missing an appointment. From time to time, they also need to look for a safe place to take a nap when needed.
What can you do?
People living with narcolepsy can definitely benefit from the support especially from people close to them. Here are some things you can do to help.
1. Learn about narcolepsy. The most important thing perhaps is to learn about the condition. The more you know about the narcolepsy, the more you will understand why they are behaving a certain way or not doing certain things. You won’t need to ask them questions or give suggestions that can aggravate the stress they already feel.
2. Be flexible. People with narcolepsy usually have to take naps during the day. If you are planning a social event, factor these naps in. You might want to hold it where there can be an ideal place for them to nap when needed.
3. Be more understanding. Sometimes they just have to miss activities because they’re having sleep attacks. Be more understanding when things like these happen. Keep in mind that they don’t want to miss them either, but that’s just the nature of their condition.
4. Help them with chores. There might also be instances when they cannot do some chores because of their condition. You can offer to help them babysit their kids, order lunch delivery, or take care of their pets when needed.
5. Join supportive patient communities. Joining support groups like Ben’s Friends’ Living with Narcolepsy Community can provide you with a clearer picture of what your friend or loved one is going through. Aside from reading stories of people with narcolepsy, you can also post questions about all the things you want to understand. You might also want to encourage them to join the support group since getting in touch with people who go through the same things as they do can really have a huge difference in their lives.
Not many people are familiar with narcolepsy or some of them are misinformed about its symptoms. Because of this, people living with this condition usually struggle with the way they are treated by others.
Finding ways how you can be of help to a friend or a loved one who is suffering from this condition, can help make things so much better for them.
Ben’s Friends is a network of safe and supportive online communities for individuals affected by a rare disease or chronic condition. Our Living with Narcolepsy Community aims to provide online support to people affected by narcolepsy. If you think you or someone you know would benefit from our community, we invite you to sign up here.