The sleep disorder called Narcolepsy is a deeply misunderstood condition that is extremely disrupting to its sufferers. We will be exploring the details in this article and how CBD oil may help with this complex disorder.
What exactly is narcolepsy?
Most of us understand narcolepsy to be where someone just falls down from whatever they are doing, and falls asleep for an indefinite amount of time. There is some truth to that but let us break it down further. Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder that can be accompanied by a few other conditions, but not always.
Narcolepsy is characterized by uncontrollable daytime drowsiness. People with this disorder have trouble staying awake for long periods of time or have trouble falling asleep at night. There are no tasks too engaging to keep narcolepsy at bay. Some people have reported falling asleep while driving or other activities that require alertness.
There are no warning signs and can happen at any time. When the narcoleptic awakens, they will feel refreshed but will feel drowsy again, at an undetermined time.
There are two types of narcolepsy
Type 1 – Narcolepsy with cataplexy
Cataplexy is the loss of muscle tone, usually sudden, that can be triggered by strong emotion. Some symptoms of cataplexy range from slurred speech, drooping head, and buckling knees.
It is a chronic condition with an unknown cause. Although all patients with narcolepsy are tested with low or nonexistent levels of hyprocretin, a neurochemical in your brain that keeps us awake and regulates sleep-wake cycles.
Type 2 – Narcolepsy without cataplexy
Type 2 narcolepsy is no less disruptive, although not having cataplexy attached makes leading a normal life slightly less complicated.
Currently, there is no cure for narcolepsy. The symptoms usually worsen during the first while that it develops and then continues after that.
Sometimes, people with type 2 narcolepsy experience cataplexy, but not often enough to be diagnosed with Type 1 narcolepsy.
Imagine walking or speaking, then suddenly you drop to the ground, asleep. That is usually the image we conjure up when we think about narcolepsy. These sudden episodes of complete paralysis. This is real. Though this is rare in people with narcolepsy, sleep paralysis can happen to anyone, even people without the condition. This usually lasts a few seconds to a few minutes and can be very disconcerting. One can be completely aware of their surroundings and have no control over what is happening.
- Hynagogic hallucinations
These are hallucinations that occur when you fall asleep
- Hypnopompic hallucinations
These are hallucinations that occur when you are awake
Hynopompic hallucinations can be particularly scary because they are vivid.
There is a slight disconnect in people with narcolepsy that experience hallucinations between the periods between wakefulness and sleep seem blurred, which causes confusion. At times, one with narcolepsy may perform tasks when an episode of sleep hits, they may continue doing the task and when they wake, they do not recall what they did.
As you may have guessed, prescribed medicines for narcolepsy include stimulants. This aids in patients being able to stay awake during the day. The least addictive varieties include modafinil and armodafinil. Although these medications were found to be relatively effective for some narcoleptic patients, most reported nausea, headache, and at times anxiety.
Other medicines include the heavy duty stimulants, amphetamines such as Ritalin. Of course we know about the addictive nature of those pharmaceuticals as Ritalin has been around for decades and prescribed to many of our children for treatment of ADHD.
Then there are the SSRIs, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and SNRIs, norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors. These suppress sleep and help with cataplexy, sleep paralysis, and hypnagogic hallucinations. The side effects include insomnia, digestion issues, and weight gain.
Antidepressants can be helpful for cataplexy but people report lightheaded-ness from using them.
The Natural Remedies
These strategies for managing symptoms are beneficial always, whether for narcolepsy or not. These include sticking to a schedule, getting enough sleep, regular exercise routines, and avoiding smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol.
Using CBD Oil to treat narcolepsy
In studies involving cannabidiol, there have been “conflicting” outcomes which caused certain scientific papers to view the trials as inconclusive. In reality, the cannabinoid system is highly complex. Furthermore, cannabidiol interacts with the system in complicated ways. As users of CBD oil, many purport these “contradictory” results. Some say after being administered CBD, they feel energized, and others, tired or sleepy.
The fact of the matter is, for a condition like narcolepsy, these opposing benefits of CBD, are exactly what people with this condition need. They need it to make them awake during the day, and sleepy at night.
Recently, there have been significant findings investigated by multiple groups regarding the pharmacological properties of CBD. They have reviewed that there are many promising findings using CBD as a good potential wake-inducing drug.
This solid evidence along with further investigation can finally give people who suffer from narcolepsy hope. The dangers narcoleptics face on a daily basis need to be addressed and managed in a successful way.
CBD oil can help in many more ways, it can reduce the stress and anxiety associated with this unique sleep disorder that affects 1 in 2000 Americans or approximately 3 million worldwide.