It’s a plot device. It’s a joke to be exploited by comedians. It shows up as the punchline in movie after movie. As soon as it comes out that a character has narcolepsy, almost on cue, they fall down snoring. While this trope works for comedy, it is not very representational of the disease itself.
One blogger who writes about her struggles with narcolepsy wants people to know what it’s really like.
To say there are a lot of misconceptions about narcolepsy out there would be a gross understatement.
Most people know that narcolepsy is some sort of sleep disorder, but the severity and the circumstances are grossly exaggerated and/or misunderstood.
Here are some of the most common misconceptions of the disease, next to with what we now know about the condition:
|It’s just laziness.||It’s actually an autoimmune disease.|
|It’s just sleeping during the day.||It’s also cataplexy, sleep paralysis, hypnogogic hallucinations, etc.|
|More sleep is the cure.||That’s just simply not the case.|
|It’s not really a thing.||It is a thing, recognized by NIH, CDC, and WHO.|
|You can still live normally.||We appreciate the optimism. But, even with treatment, some of the most mundane tasks are made more difficult because of narcolepsy.|
There is much more to narcolepsy than meets the eye.
It’s not laziness or a lack of nighttime sleep. It is much more than falling asleep at inappropriate times during the day. Narcoleptics frequently suffer from disrupted sleep, cataplexy (spontaneously weakened muscles), sleep paralysis (inability to move even while conscious), and hallucinations.
The aforementioned young blogger attempted to define narcolepsy in her blog, giving a clinical definition concerning symptoms, treatments, and prognoses. She even provided info-graphics with citations from numerous credible sources.
But what this blogger did better than most was define narcolepsy using an analogy—an analogy that only one with experience can truly appreciate. Allow me to try and recreate it: If sleep and wakefulness are polar opposites, then the sleep continuum could be thought of as a light switch. She quotes her doctor in likening narcolepsy to living with a dimmer switch. The light it on, just not as bright. And when it’s out, it’s still glowing.
If only we could understand every medical condition with such beautifully constructed analogies.