WORLD NARCOLEPSY DAY
Every year on September 22nd, World Narcolepsy Day spreads awareness for this chronic sleep disorder. It’s also a day for those who have narcolepsy to share their stories on social media.
Narcolepsy is known as a sleep disorder. However, narcolepsy is also considered a chronic neurological condition. For those who have narcolepsy, the brain cannot regulate their sleep-wake cycle. This condition affects 3 million people around the world. This number does not include the many who are undiagnosed. For some, it takes up to 15 years to be properly diagnosed with narcolepsy.
Common symptoms of narcolepsy include:
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Cataplexy, or a sudden loss of muscle tone
- Sleep paralysis, which is a temporary inability to move or speak while falling asleep or waking up
- Changes in rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which is when dreams occur
People with narcolepsy can fall asleep without warning. For example, they could fall asleep at work or when talking to friends. They might nod off for just a few minutes or sleep for half an hour. When the person wakes up, they might feel refreshed. However, the sleepiness eventually returns. As you can imagine, narcolepsy can interfere with normal, everyday activities. This disorder is also dangerous, as it’s possible to fall asleep while driving or preparing food. Left untreated, narcolepsy can lead to social isolation and depression.
As with any sleep disorder, those with narcolepsy are encouraged to maintain a consistent sleep schedule. They should also plan to take a short nap during the day. Avoiding nicotine and alcohol are other ways to help manage the symptoms of narcolepsy. In severe cases, doctors may prescribe stimulants or other prescription drugs to help stay awake throughout the day.
People with narcolepsy should inform their employers of their condition. They are also encouraged to find a support group that understands the condition.
HOW TO OBSERVE #WorldNarcolepsyDay
Sleep professionals and organizations hold various events on this day to educate the public about this misunderstood condition. To participate:
- Learn more about narcolepsy and the symptoms of this condition.
- If you have narcolepsy, share your story with others.
- Offer encouragement and support for someone that has narcolepsy.
- Donate to Project Sleep or other organizations that fund narcolepsy research.
- Watch a documentary about narcolepsy, such as “Nap Attack” or “The Secrets of Sleep.”
- Read about famous people with narcolepsy like Jimmy Kimmel, Harriet Tubman, and Sir Winston Churchill.
Finally, spread awareness for this day on social media with #WorldNarcolepsyDay.
WORLD NARCOLEPSY DAY HISTORY
Twenty-four patient advocacy organizations across six continents established World Narcolepsy Day in 2019. The goal of the day was to unite the international narcolepsy community to increase public knowledge about narcolepsy.