Rude! Here’s How to Suck the Power Out of 4 Narcolepsy Misperceptions

I read a pretty cool short and sweet article that you need to check out, written by a person who is living with narcolepsy.

I’m so impressed by how well informed s/he is, but it ticks me off to know s/he has to deal with misconceptions abour narcolepsy and associated cataplexy face day in and day out!

So let’s “twalk” about sleep. We all know how vitally important it is to our health. Sleeping allows our bodies to recover, rejuvenate, refresh, and rest. Without it, our ability to function well physically, emotionally, and cognitively, tank. There is credence behind (what is now outlawed in most Western countries) the cruel practice of sleep deprivation torture, which was popular back during the Korean War and World War ll, but enough about that.

We need sleep in order to function. Not getting enough sleep is not the only danger; getting too much sleep can become a huge problem or approximately 3 million sufferers around the globe. People living with uncontrolled narcolepsy and associated cataplexy may try their best to lead normal lives, but it’s impossible. I can only imagine how frightening, embarrassing, and baffling it must be to suddenly be talking to a work colleague in the break room and suddenly fall asleep. Then again, I can imagine how dangerous it must be when someone with untreated narcolepsy drives. It happens.

Here are 4 FAQs that demonstrate how uninformed people are about the condition:

    1. Stop whining! Can’t you just get to bed earlier? No. People with narcolepsy have disrupted sleep/wake cycles, no matter how much sleep they get, it’s not enough.
    2. Is narcolepsy made up by the media? Uhh…no! Nearly 200,000 Americans suffer from it and approximately 3 million people are thought to have narcolepsy around the world.
    3. Does having narcolepsy mean that you have no control and fall asleep without warning? Good question, but this answer is tricky… While many people do suddenly fall asleep in the middle of a conversation, while driving, getting married, grocery shopping, or changing a diaper—it’s not always true for everyone. Some people have mild, moderate, and severe types of narcolepsy. Mild and mild-to-moderate forms can sometimes be managed with lifestyle changes under the care of a healthcare professional. Sadly, many people are undiagnosed and only about 25% of people are receiving proper medical attention and treatment.
    4. What’s the deal with cataplexy? Does that come from petting cats? Ohhh… no! Cataplexy is the condition that about 60% of people who have narcolepsy and for those, when they experience an intense emotion like laughing at a funny joke, or feeling sad watching a soap opera, well, they can suddenly feel weak and lose muscle control.

Hopefully with more people coming forward to share their stories about narcolepsy, those who are living in the shadows will one day not only “see the light,” they’ll enjoy more of it, too!

Alisha Stone

Alisha Stone

Alisha Stone has a BA in psychology and is dedicated to improving the lives of others living with chronic illnesses.

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