The two main symptoms are: daytime sleepiness and cataplexy attacks.
The narcoleptic has difficulty staying awake during the day. He is the victim of an awakening disorder, a drowsiness. This usually results in irrepressible desires to sleep at different times during the day.
There is a possibility of a transient recovery through a nap, but drowsiness usually comes back a few hours later. Narcoleptics can also have cataplexy attacks during the day.Cataplexy is a significant loss or decrease of muscle tone without loss of consciousness. The attacks of cataplexy occur in full wake, usually during a positive emotion such as laughter, surprise, during sex, etc.
There is a sudden loss of muscle tone, but the patient does not fall asleep, he is awake and fully conscious. The cataplexy can be partial (only the arm or head will be affected for example) or generalized (in this case, if the patient is standing, it can fall). Then, there are other symptoms related to narcolepsy that translate a disorganization of sleep itself:
- Hypnagogic hallucinations, that is hallucinatory phenomena to fall asleep or wake up
- Sleep paralysis, which is a moment of inhibition of muscle tone when falling asleep or waking up
- There may also be sleepwalking phenomena, nightmares, etc.
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