Narcolepsy is a chronic and disabling sleep disorder. It affects your brain so that messages about when to sleep and when to be awake get confused. This results in uneven and broken sleep during the night and periods of extreme tiredness and sudden attacks of sleep during the day.
There are two main types of narcolepsy. Type 1 is accompanied by cataplexy, a sudden loss of muscle tone or weakening of the muscles that is often triggered by a strong emotion. Narcolepsy that does not include cataplexy is known as type 2 narcolepsy.
A condition called secondary narcolepsy can also occur as a result of damage to the hypothalamus – part of the brain that helps regulate sleep. As well as having symptoms of narcolepsy, people with this may have neurological problems and sleep for long periods (more than 10 hours) at night. Long periods of sleep can also occur for people with type 1 and type 2 narcolepsy.
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