narcDo you seem to literally fall asleep at the drop of a hat–even when you should be awake? Does sleep overcome you when you least expect it? Do you suspect you might have narcolepsy? People suffering from narcolepsy experience excessive sleepiness during the day when they should be feeling alert. In today’s sleep blog, your Livonia, MI dentist, Dr. James Stewart, discusses narcolepsy.

What is Narcolepsy?

Narcolepsy is a neurological sleep disorder of which the causes are still unknown. It is theorized that there are certain genes that control production of a chemical in the brain called hypocretin. Hypocretin is a neurotransmitter that regulates wakefulness. It is believed that a lack of hypocretin causes the person to feel sleepy at times they should be alert, causing intermittent, uncontrollable episodes of sleep during the day. The sleep comes on randomly, and suddenly, regardless of the time of day or what activity the individual is participating in. Typically, it takes about 90 minutes after falling asleep to enter the rapid eye movement stage (REM). Those people with narcolepsy, however, enter REM almost immediately.


The following symptoms are symptoms of narcolepsy:

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS): In addition to falling asleep, EDS includes a lack of energy, difficulty concentrating, mental cloudiness, memory lapses, extreme exhaustion, and depression.
  • Hallucinations: People suffering from narcolepsy can experience vivid visual hallucinations upon falling asleep or waking up.
  • Cataplexy: Cataplexy is the loss of voluntary muscle control.
  • Sleep paralysis: Sleep paralysis is the temporary inability to speak or move upon falling asleep or waking up.

About Dr. Stewart

James R. Stewart, Jr, DDS, PC and our compassionate staff proudly serve patients of all ages from Livonia, Farmington Hills, Plymouth, Northville, Dearborn Heights, Garden City, and all surrounding communities. If you think you or a loved one is dealing with a sleep disorder, call our office today at (734) 425-4400, to schedule an appointment. At Dental sleep Medicine of Michigan, we are committed to forming trusting relationships with our patients so we can work together to achieve sound treatment and a future full of restful nights.