Narcolepsy: Does Your Teen Have A Sleep Disorder?

If your teen is always sleepy, even after taking multiple daily naps, they may have narcolepsy type 1 or narcolepsy type 2. Narcolepsy in general is a disorder that causes excessive sleepiness, muscle problems, and other symptoms. The condition can cause various symptoms, depending on the type you have. Learn more about narcolepsy and how to help your teen treat it below.

What Exactly Is Narcolepsy?

Narcolepsy generally affects young people between the ages of 7 and 25. However, some adults can also develop narcolepsy over time. There are two types of narcolepsy doctors treat today: type 1 and type 2. Although narcolepsy 1 and narcolepsy 2 both cause excessive sleepiness (or attacks) in the day and wakefulness in the night, there are still some differences between the two disorders you need to know about.

Type 1 narcolepsy is the most common disorder of the two types. With type 1 narcolepsy, your teen may experience cataplexy, or muscle tone loss. Cataplexy can cause your teen's knee to buckle and speech to slur. Some people may experience complete or total paralysis in some or all of their limbs and body. 

Type 2 narcolepsy doesn't affect the muscles, knees, or speech. But if your teen has type 2, they may go through extreme bouts of sleepiness. Your teen may take naps to refresh themselves during the day. However, the naps may only energize your teen's body for a short period of time. 

Narcolepsy 1 and 2 can make some people hallucinate, or imagine and see things, at times. The hallucinations usually occur at night and may be frightening to some people. If your teen hallucinates or exhibits other signs of narcolepsy, contact a sleep center for help.

How Do Sleep Centers Diagnose and Treat Narcolepsy?

Before a sleep center can treat your teen, doctors must determine which type of narcolepsy your loved one has. To do so, a center may ask your teen to participate in a sleep monitoring program or study. A doctor can use studies to monitor your loved one's sleep patterns and behavior during the night. 

Some centers use special equipment to monitor their patients' behavior during sleep programs. The equipment can detect and record a person's brain waves when they're awake and when they fall asleep. The results can help determine the cause of the narcolepsy, including how to treat it.

The treatments needed for narcolepsy type 1 and type 2 may include:

  • establishing a new day and night routine
  • exercising regularly 
  • taking medications

A sleep disorder center will discuss your teen's treatment after the exam.

For more information on narcolepsy type 1 and type 2, contact a sleep center on your teen's behalf today.