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Narcolepsy and sleep disorders - Essay Example

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Name: Assignment Description: Course: Tutor: Date: Narcolepsy and Sleep Disorders Sleep is an essential aspect for most living, appreciating the reason why humans spend about a third of their lifetime asleep (Pastorino & Doyle-Portillo, 2012). Kalat (2009) puts this into perspective by referring to sleep as a biological unconsciousness condition that could be reversed and whose characteristics includes closed eyes, recumbent posture, reduced arousal ability and lack of mobility…
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Narcolepsy and sleep disorders
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Download file to see previous pages In humans, sleep would be affected by the effect of sunlight on the brain together with the duration spent in wakefulness before sleeping, referred to as circadian control and homeostatic control respectively. Nonetheless, some sleeping behaviors in humans exhibit a trend from the normal thus, sleep disorders. Borrowing from secondary sources, this paper evaluates narcolepsy together with insomnia and sleep apnea as common sleep disorders. Narcolepsy is a term used to describe a sleep disorder which causes patients to exhibit a strong and even uncontrollable impulse to sleep during the day. Its prevalence as noted by Pastorino and Doyle-Portillo (2012) stands at 1 out of every 1,000 people and has been observed to run in families though no narcolepsy gene has been identified. The persons affected with the disorder would exhibit symptoms like sudden or gradual daytime sleep attacks. About 70% of narcoleptic patients occasionally experience cataplexy where their muscles weaken while they are awake. According to Kalat (2009), cataplexy would be triggered by strong emotions including great excitement or anger. The third symptom for narcolepsy has been noted to be sleep paralysis characterized by movement inability when waking up or falling asleep. Lastly, hypnagogic hallucinations would cause such persons to have dreamlike experiences at the onset of sleeping with difficulties in distinguishing such from reality. The cause of narcolepsy has been attributed to lack of hypothalamic cells which produce and release the neurotransmitter orexin (Pastorino & Doyle-Portillo, 2012). According to Kalat (2013), orexin plays an important role in maintaining wakefulness without which one experiences alternation between short sleepy and waking periods instead of being awake the whole day. Orexin restoring drugs has remained a theoretical solution to the disorder as such drugs are yet to become available. As such, stimulant drugs like methylphenidate (Ritalin) responsible for enhancing norepinephrine and dopamine activity have been the common treatment. Among all the sleep disorders, insomnia is the most commonly reported characterized by one’s inability to stay asleep and/or to sleep. It could also be occasional, a postulate supported by Kalat (2013) who notes that 50% of adults report insomnia at some point in their lives. This disorder has been attributed to various factors including stress, depression, change in sleep schedule, chronic pain, loss of a loved one, obesity and drug abuse. The medical treatment for insomnia as cited by Kalat (2009) includes use of sedative or antianxiety medications like Ambienn or Xanax or taking over-the-counter medications like Nytol and Sorainex which contain pain relievers and antihistamines to induce sleepiness. But Pastorino and Doyle-Portillo (2012) warn against long-term use of such drugs as they lead to dependence on them for sleep. Therefore, for chronic insomnia cases, the drugs would be used for a limited period of time combined with cognitive-behavioral therapy aimed at changing behaviors and thoughts deemed to interfere with restful sleep. Sleep apnea on the other hand refers to a sleep disorder that involves the affected person stopping to breath while asleep. Thus, in an attempt to get air, such persons emit ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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