Narcolepsy is a relatively rare sleep disorder that affects people by disrupting a normal sleep pattern. Narcolepsy is a long-term chronic condition of the nervous system that can be either mild or severe. Statistics indicate that one in 2,000 people in the US suffer from narcolepsy. However, it is also stated that nearly 80% of cases remain undiagnosed or go unreported.
To understand what narcolepsy is one has to first understand what happens during the normal sleep pattern. In a normal sleep pattern, your body goes through two stages - the NREM or non-rapid eye movement stage where the brain slows down and the REM stage or rapid eye movement stage that occurs a few hours after the NREM stage. In the REM stage, activity in the brain picks up and dreaming occurs. In a narcoleptic sleep pattern, the person immediately enters the REM stage of sleep without experiencing the NREM stage. This REM sleep in narcoleptics can occur at any time during the day and can result in vivid dreams.
Narcolepsy can affect both men and women equally and generally begins in early adolescence. As of date, there is no known cure for the condition but there are a number of treatments available that can reduce the symptoms and prevent any major impact on your daily life.