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Fantasy + Dissociation = Narcolepsy ?


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Background info: In preschool, we were punished/abused if we didn't sleep during naptime. Even if I tried to pretend by closing my eyes, the teachers always knew I wasn't sleeping and I got in trouble even more. Can't remember if I ever slept or not but I always had a hard time with it. Earliest I remember falling asleep is around age 9 and it was very easy -- by fantasizing about terrible things I could fall asleep in a few minutes. Did I teach myself to sleep in a dysfunctional way (by dissociating or something?)

Now: I can still fall asleep very easily, within a few minutes all the time, but happens a lot by accident, too. Also, when I do fall asleep, I have no warning. Other people say they drift off or get tired first - I'm completely awake, then I'm gone. It's not a bad thing or anything, but I always found it interesting. So, since I've never known anyone like this, I want to ask, does this happen to anyone else?

Thoughts, explanations, disagreements, similar experiences? Thanks!

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Narcolepsy is an organic brain disorder, not something you can "think" yourself into. Episodes can occur at any time, but can also be triggered by being startled, or by strong emotions among others. Diagnosis is usually confirmed through a sleep study in a lab. One major differential diagnosis is sleep apnea.

If you are falling asleep at inappropriate times or are excessively tired you should discuss this with your family doctor immediately. You have a responsibility to yourself and the public to prevent injury or deaths that could occur if you cause an accident while driving or working.

best, a.m.

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OK, so of course it doesn't have to be narcolepsy, but it's the first thing that one thinks of when you say you pass out without warning. Def. not sleep apnea. Usually happens during a movie, when I'm reading, during class, in a car only when I'm not driving -- more passive activities, but it's definitely at times I have wanted it to NOT happen and tried to stop myself from falling asleep, and I had no idea when I was even close to it. Never happened when I was startled. And, as I described, it has happened many times in response to strong emotions.

Here's my own differential diagnosis, haha --

Falling asleep during movies: my short attention span

Excessively tired/daytime sleepiness/unexpected naps: depression

Thanks for the input ;)

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Usually happens during a movie, when I'm reading, during class, in a car only when I'm not driving -- more passive activities, but it's definitely at times I have wanted it to NOT happen and tried to stop myself from falling asleep, and I had no idea when I was even close to it.

These are the EXACT situations and questions that the doctor will ask you about when checking for sleep apnea. The EXACT ones.

And, as I described, it has happened many times in response to strong emotions.

I didn't see a clear description of that in your original statement. Situtations that might provoke narcolepsy include anger, excitement, stress, resulting in one falling asleep.

Here's my own differential diagnosis, haha --

Falling asleep during movies: my short attention span

Excessively tired/daytime sleepiness/unexpected naps: depression

Thats what most of us with sleep apnea used to explain/rationalize our exhaustion and sleepiness.

Is there anyone who has observed you sleeping that could tell you if you snore or stop breathing during the night? One thing you can try is to set a tape or digital recorder next to your bed and then listen for snoring, stopped breathing or very shallow breathing.

a.m. Talk to your doctor. It can make a big improvement in your mental illness, not to mention life in general.

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First, thanks for the advice, it can't hurt to ask a doctor.

However, I doubt it because I do not snore or stop breathing (according to people who've seen me sleep), I'm young and in good health (not overweight, normal blood pressure, exercise often), not tired when I first wake up, do not wake up in the middle of the night, and I only sleep on my side.

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It also sounds like all the symptoms my gf has who has a dx of narcolepsy.

The deal with sleep apnea is that it prevents you from getting resful sleep at night so that you fall asleep all the time during the day.

With narcolepsy, your sleep/wake threshold isn't as clearly defined as it should be. There are many variations.

Here is the Stanford site:

http://med.stanford.edu/school/Psychiatry/...y/symptoms.html

Some Quotes:

Narcolepsy is a frequent disorder: it is the second leading cause of excessive daytime sleepiness diagnosed by sleep centers after obstructive sleep apnea. Studies on the epidemiology of narcolepsy show an incidence of 0.2 to 1.6 per thousand in European countries, Japan and the United States, a frequency at least as large as that of Multiple Sclerosis. In many cases, however, diagnosis is not made until many years after the onset of symptoms. This is often due to the fact that patients consult a physician after many years of excessive sleepiness, assuming that sleepiness is not indicative of a disease.

Narcolepsy is a very disabling and underdiagnosed illness: the effect of narcolepsy on its victims is devastating. Studies have shown that even treated narcoleptic patients are often markedly psychosocially impaired in the area of work, leisure, interpersonal relations, and are more prone to accidents. These effects are even more severe than the well-documented deleterious effects of epilepsy when similar criteria are used for comparison.

The large majority of narcoleptic patients in this country are still undiagnosed, and narcoleptic subjects are most often diagnosed only after many years of struggle. In one recent study, the mean number of years between the onset of symptoms and correct diagnosis was 14 years. Since the symptoms of narcolepsy usually appear during adolescence, this means that most narcoleptic patients are diagnosed too late to prevent the dramatic impact of the disease on their personal and professional development.

Info from the Mayo Clinic:

home

symptoms

Also look here:

http://www.sleepfoundation.org/

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