The Difference Between Type 1 and Type 2 Narcolepsy

The Difference Between Type 1 and Type 2 Narcolepsy

There are many different ways to stay healthy, which include adequate amounts of physical activity, a good diet, and proper rest. Too often we overlook the importance of getting enough sleep, but it affects you more profoundly than you think. 

Improper rest can lead to many different problems during the day, including lack of alertness, memory issues, mental impairment, and increased risk of car accidents for those who drive.

Narcolepsy is one of several sleep disorders that affect the quality of rest you get, and even if you feel rested when you get up, you still end up feeling impaired. This disorder affects up to 200,000 people in America, and it comes in two varieties. Let’s explore the conditions and its types by looking at what narcolepsy is, the differences between the two types, and how it can be treated.

Residents of the Glendale, Arizona area looking for ways to treat narcolepsy or other sleeping conditions can find help with Drs. Sarah (who in August was selected for an interview by the Arizona Medical Association, or ArMA) and Vinod Patel and the skilled medical team at Sonoran Sleep Center.

Understanding narcolepsy

In normal sleep, your sleep cycle starts with non-rapid eye movement sleep (NREM) where the brain waves slow down significantly. About an hour in, rapid eye movement (REM) sleep starts, brain activity increases, and most dreaming occurs in this period. 

With narcolepsy, you never enter the NREM phase, and you can go straight into REM sleep during the day or at night. The shift in your sleep cycle from what your body needs can cause excess daytime sleepiness, sleep paralysis, hallucinations, and changes in REM sleep.

While the exact causes of this disorder aren’t well understood, it is connected with people lacking proper levels of hypocretin, a chemical neurotransmitter produced by neurons in your hypothalamus (a region of your brain that regulates sleep, hunger, and arousal). 

Low levels of hypocretin can be caused by conditions like autoimmune disorders, brain injuries, and family history.

The differences between the types of narcolepsy

The differences between type 1 and type 2 narcolepsy relate to the presence of a condition known as cataplexy, where muscles go limp or weaken without warning. 

The lack of hypocretin is connected to type 1 narcolepsy, and people with this type are also prone to feelings of physical weakness and collapse. You may experience cataplexy, sleep paralysis, hallucinations and insomnia with type 1 narcolepsy.

People with type 2 do not suffer from cataplexy and generally have normal levels of hypocretin. This type is often less severe than type 1 but both will cause excessive sleeping during the day, as well as hallucinations, sleep paralysis, and insomnia.

Methods of treatment

Narcolepsy isn’t curable, but it can be managed with medications and some lifestyle changes. 

To help with daytime sleepiness, stimulants like modafinil or methylphenidate may be prescribed, as well as solriamfetol, a selective dopamine and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor that helps keep you awake. 

For cataplexy, antidepressants are known to help with few side effects, and sedatives like sodium oxybate help reduce it in people with severe forms of the condition.

Changes you can make in your lifestyle to help reduce symptoms of narcolepsy include sticking to a routine sleep schedule, taking regular naps during the day, getting plenty of physical exercise, and getting help for stress that may affect sleep. 

Relaxing habits before bed can help ease you into sleep, and avoid caffeine, alcohol, and cold and allergy medications. Not smoking before bed helps as well.

Narcolepsy affects your sleep, but it doesn’t have to control your life. If you’re ready to get help for either type of this sleep disorder, make an appointment with the Drs. Patel at the Sonoran Sleep Center today.

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