I am a female under 20 and have been experiencing difficulties sleeping for the past 6 months or so. Some of my symptoms seem to correspond to narcolepsy, except that I have not experienced cataplexy or sudden nodding off that seem to be the defining characteristics of narcolepsy. does anyone know what else could be going on?
Here are my symptoms:
-Each night I wake up about 3 hours after I fall asleep. I wake up in the middle of an anxiety filled dream (not a nightmare, just a dream where something is making me tense). While I am awake, I think that the dream is real. I sometimes wake up sitting up in bed or propped up on my elbows, or in some other tensed position. Then, after a few minutes, I fall immediately back into the same dream. about 15 minutes later the same thing will happen- I will wake up and not be able to convince myself that the anxiety I feel was produced by the dream, then I fall immediately back into it. This goes on for up to 3 hours. It is usually around 5 in the morning that I finally fall into a deep sleep.
-I feel tired and sleep deprived when I wake up and throughout the morning and late afternoon. I doze off a lot in class, while studying, while reading, in moving cars, etc.
-Just before I fall asleep, I see dream images. This happens if I am dozing off in class during the day or just before I take a nap. I think this can be classified as hypnagogic hallucinations, but I don't know.
-Almost every time I nap recently I lucid dream, meaning I am in control of my dreams, at least at the very end of them. I get very frightened when this happens because I get "caught" in my own dreams- I try to wake up, but I can't move my body or open my eyelids no matter how hard I try. Is this sleep paralysis?
So like I said, it seems like I have some symptoms of narcolepsy, but not cataplexy or sudden nodding off, which seem to be the two most important symptoms. If I nod off, it is because i feel exhausted, not just random sleeping.
Also, these symptoms started right after I left for college, so I orginally thought they were just caused by stress or something. But i have been home from college for over a month on my january term, and they haven't stopped. I am just afraid that these may be early symptoms of narcolepsy, since it usually appears between the ages of 15 and 25.
Any suggestions or information you have would be greatly appreciated! And sorry for the long message. Thanks.
I sympathise with you, I have the same symptoms (narcolepsy minus cataplexy), plus Restless Legs Syndrome. I've found that if I'm overtired, gone to bed too late, or have been overdoing it or stressed out, then I'm much more likely to experience these problems. I've found that if I fall asleep lying on my back, I definately have the symptoms (sleep paralysis especially, with hypnogogic hallucinations) and so I always try to ensure I'm lying in the recovery position, or at least, on my side, when I'm going to sleep. Putting a pillow behind my back helps me not to roll over completely onto my back. My symptoms first developed as an adolescent, got worse with pregnancy and stayed with me. Now that I know what the hallucinations/sleep paralysis is, they don't scare me so much, and I'm able to tell myself "oh, it's just that condition again, I'll be ok in a minute or two"... and then I am! Whereas previously the experience could go on for hours and hours. From the research I've done, it seems that any strong emotion can trigger it, therefore fear can make it last longer (feed it), so better to remain calm and convince yourself that it will pass. Eventually I regained most of my control back, and now only have these awful experiences every once in a while. Mind you, I'm taking Venlafaxine for depression now, so that may be helping too! I've been told that Prozac can be prescribed, and is effective for these disorders, so it may be worth lookin into that. I'm 42 now by the way. Hope some of this helps - best of luck, Angie
It may be sleep paralysis which is associated with narcolepsy, but doesn't have to present with all of the symptoms of narcolepsy.
I just want to add that sleep paralysis is a perfectly normal "event" providing it happens during rem...if it occurs outside of the natural sleep cycle, it is considered a disorder.
From what I've read, sometimes disrupted sleep schedules and/or circadian rhythm cycles trigger these events...so practicing good sleep hygene, and keeping regular hours may help...easy to say, I know, .
Given the severity of your sleep disruption, you might want to seek medical attention. Sometimes it's easier to treat these things before they get way out of hand.