Narcolepsy is something that the common person does not understand or respect. It is not like “Rat Race,” and generally isn’t that funny. It is one of the most debilitating, life changing diseases. It renders a person extremely exhausted at all times of the day. Imagine getting around two hours of sleep one night. The next day you will be extremely tired throughout the entire day. This is how a narcoleptic feels, at all times.
Narcolepsy is basically the absence of stage three sleep. Contrary to belief, it is not the absence of REM sleep. Most narcoleptics go straight to REM sleep. Stage three sleep is the stage in which your body regenerates energy, so that it can perform at top quality the next day.
My brother was diagnosed with narcolepsy when he was around 18 or 19, the age that symptoms begin in most people. He has basically changed completely as a person. His sleep schedule is extremely skewed, and when he does sleep it can seem never-ending. He has slept for 32 hours in the same house as me before. He has also stayed up for an entire month with no sleep.
He describes sleep as nearly “pointless” because weather he gets three minutes of sleep, or 32, he still feels just as tired. It seems extremely frustrating to have to always feel exhausted.
Some other adverse effects of this are his extreme lucid dreams. He has woken up many times with radical and brilliant mathematical ideas.
He has tried a few different drugs that are prescribed to people with narcolepsy. Most of the drugs are basically some derivative of methamphetamine. The main treatment for narcolepsy is speed. It is a dangerous and scary drug. It can cause all sorts of side effects, such as speed paranoia.
It can also create a dependency on the drug.
Although my brother has been on speed for a while, he makes it a point to not take the prescribed drug on weekends. He doesn’t want to build a tolerance or dependency on the drug. But his means a less regulated schedule, and it makes him sleep throughout the whole weekend, apart from meals.
His eating schedule has also changed, since he sleeps for so long on the weekends, he eats massive meals when he is awake. If he is awake for a day without using speed, he will eat 6 or more full meals a day.
My brother, regardless of his eating habits, is physically healthy. He is quite thin, and can still run a six-minute mile.
He has recently been prescribed a new drug called Xiram, which is also known as the date rape drug. This is a complete revolution from the drugs he was taking. Xiram is a complete depressant, one that will literally put someone in such a deep sleep that that can be raped without noticing. This is a normal person, however. This drug simply puts my brother, who has narcolepsy, into a normal stage three sleep. This lasts for about four hours, and then he is supposed to take another and sleep for another four.
If all works out, this will give him as close to eight hours of normal sleep as he can get. Than he won’t have to take speed all day to stay up and be energized.
He has tried it once, and said that he felt extremely energized the whole next day. The only problem was that he slept through four alarms.
It will require extreme diligence on his part in his schedule.
Narcolepsy has affected his ability to return phone calls, attend class, and he has even fallen asleep in midterm and final examinations. It is an extremely heavy burden on a person, and should not be taken lightly.