Narcolepsy, which is treatable with a modern drug such as Modafinil and Provigil, is an illness that is caused by an imbalance in the brain of the chemicals that control our urge to be in either a state of sleep or wakefulness. Modafinil is also known under brand names like Modapro or Modalert. In short, the chemical imbalance in a narcolepsy sufferer means that they can desire to be asleep more than they desire to be wakeful. However, the desire to fall asleep is very pronounced and can lead to them suddenly falling asleep at entirely inopportune and inappropriate times such as when working or even just simply talking. This renders everyday life for a narcolepsy patient to become both hazardous and potentially embarrassing.
A further explanation of narcolepsy
The sudden ‘sleep attacks’ outlined above are not the only symptom of narcolepsy likely to be experienced by the sufferer. The ‘sleep attacks’ can last a few seconds or run into hours in duration and afterwards the sufferer will feel refreshed, but that these ‘sleep attack’ episodes can be repeated throughout the day. Symptoms in an individual that sufferes from narcolepsy can and will vary but could also include any of the following. Being due to a chemical imbalance in the brain the ‘sleep attacks’ can be triggered by a general change in the mood, or level of excitement, of the narcolepsy patient. Hence a change in mood, cataplexy, to one of anger or excitement, happiness or sadness could trigger an episode. People have also been known to enter trances, which is why once prescribed sufferers should correctly take their medication like Modafinil. Narcolepsy can also lead to muscular paralysis or the complete opposite and a total loss of control over the muscles. So a sufferer could become entirely immovable or completely slumped. Unfortunately there are also symptoms of narcolepsy that can be experienced even during ‘normal’ sleep; such as hallucinatory nightmares, an increased pulse beat and, ironically, interrupted night-time sleep. The onset of narcolepsy usually occurs in adolescence and there is some evidence that it could be an inheritable factor. Around one 1:2000 of the population could suffer from narcolepsy to some degree or other.
Fortunately, due to the great advances that have been made in our understanding of brain chemistry in recent years, there are a range of modern drugs suitable for the treatment of narcolepsy. If you suspect you, or someone else, are suffering from narcolepsy consult with a physician who will probably prescribe one or another brand of Modafinil such as Provigil, to help restore the chemical imbalance in your brain. You should expect this to be accompanied with a series of blood and other tests to ensure that there isn’t any other, more serious, underlying condition needing treatment. As well as regularly taking your Modafinil there are some other things that you should do to ‘help yourself’. The first thing to realize is that Modafinil will not cure your illness, but will ease or reduce the symptoms you’ve been experiencing. You can help Modafinil to do its job well by making the following changes to your everyday life. First of all avoid occupations that involve shift work, require long periods of concentration on one function (monotonous jobs) and jobs in poorly lit and ventilated environments. Potentially quite a tall order depending on your skills and career opportunities we know but; do try and gain employment where you can move around, need to be alert and if at all possible one where you will have regular breaks – if you do need a nap! At a personal level learn to recognize the triggers of your cataplexy episodes and avoid the things that provoke the onset of an attack; also adopt a new diet and exercise regime to keep your weight down and general health levels high.
Drugs for narcolepsy
So far we have only mentioned Modafinil as a drug for the treatment of narcolepsy. Modafinil, also known as Provigil, is the recommended drug of choice for treating narcolepsy as it is designed to be a wakefulness promoter. However, if a narcolepsy patient experiences episodes of cataplexy then they would also need an anti-depressant such as Anafranil to treat that too. The benefit of prescribing both Anafranil and Modafinil is that they are both quite benign in ordinarily healthy adults, having no serious side-effects such as addiction etc.