A commentator wrote in and asked what the difference was between a person with narcolepsy and Obstructive Sleep Apnoea(OSA). Well, quite a bit..although people suffering from these conditions would manifest as extreme drowsiness during daytime.
Lets get some facts straight. The most common cause of extreme daytime drowsiness is insufficient sleep. Whether its due to a late social night out, a late football game or recent matrimonial bliss, if one does not get the required amount of beauty sleep (which varies from person to person, 6-8 hours generally), the next day will reflect on the previous night’s activities.
That aside, if we look at those who are blessed with sufficient hours for sleep at night, but yet show excessive daytime drowsiness, many health practitioners would want to entertain 2 important causes. One of them is Obstructive Sleep Apnoea(OSA), which was covered by an earlier post here. People with this condition have been known to doze off during an important Board meeting (not out of boredom, for sure) or crashed their car while falling asleep at the wheel. This recently-recognised medical condition has become more and more prominent in recent years as its awareness increases. Thanks to new techniques, this condition has become eminently curable.
The other condition causing prominent daytime drowsiness is narcolepsy. This little-known condition manifests in 5 different ways:
- excessive daytime drowsiness,
- cataplexy (loss of muscle function in response to emotional extremes),
- sleep paralysis (temporary inability to talk or move on waking up),
- hypnagogic hallucinations (vivid dreams while sleeping or waking up) and
- automatic behaviour (continuing normal fuctions while sleeping, like sleepwalking).
Apart from the above sleep disorders, we should not forget also that some medications can cause drowsiness. A good example is antihistamines, often used to combat allergies or motion sickness. There are some diseases that can cause sleepiness as well, in particular hypothyroidism and hyponatremia.
If you do have such sleeping disorders, go through this quick checklist to see if you are having any of these maladies- click here.