For the record, I’ve fallen asleep in a lot of strange places but I’m fairly certain I’ve never fallen asleep in the middle of a conversation. (Correct me if I’m wrong!) However, in all fairness, this is what I thought narcolepsy meant too, before I got it…
So, if narcolepsy isn’t what we think it was, then what is it exactly? Here’s my briefest of brief summary:
Narcolepsy is neurological disorder caused by the brain’s inability to properly regulate the sleep/wake cycle. The two most debilitating symptoms of narcolepsy are excessive daytime sleepiness and cataplexy. A person with narcolepsy experiences episodes of excessive daytime sleepiness comparable to how a normal person would feel after staying awake for 48 to 72 hours straight.
Cataplexy is a form of temporary muscle paralysis completely unique to narcolepsy. Cataplexy varies in intensity; a person with severe cataplexy may collapse to the ground, unable to move or speak for a few seconds to a few minutes.
Society correctly associates narcolepsy with sleepiness, however this sleepiness is generally perceived as harmless or humorous. In reality, narcolepsy is a serious chronic disorder that can severely impact personal and professional lives. Studies indicate that narcolepsy’s affect upon quality-of-life is comparable to epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s disease.