Dear Crissy

Are You Tired, Or Is It More?

This post is sponsored by Jazz Pharmaceuticals.

It happens every single day. At some point, usually around lunchtime, I feel a wave of fatigue wash over my body and it’s difficult for me to focus on whatever task I’ve been working on. I just feel like I could curl up in a ball on the floor and take a nap!

Sometimes I’m even struck with this sleepiness when I’m out with friends or trying to enjoy time with my kids.

I’ve struggled with excessive sleepiness during the day for a few years now, and I’ve even questioned whether I’m having normal sleepiness or if it could be something more.

Me with my son, Evan, during a harvest party at his school.

For many, exhaustion is a part of everyday life. So is fighting to stay awake during the day. But, if that urge to sleep is overwhelming and irresistible, it may be a symptom of narcolepsy, a chronic neurologic condition in which the brain is not able to control sleep-wake cycles normally. (1,7) Narcolepsy is one of the most frequently diagnosed primary sleep disorders in sleep clinics. 9 It affects approximately 1 in 2,000 people in the U.S.(1)

I’ve noticed my own daytime sleepiness becoming more frequent and I feel like it’s time I begin looking at my sleep health more seriously.

I have been guilty of putting my own health and wellness on the back burner as I focus on raising my children, running my household and managing my business. I am always encouraging my friends to take more time for themselves and not to overlook health issues, yet, I tend to not follow my own advice and instead just keep moving forward and powering through my day regardless of how tired I feel.

As I take a good, hard look at my own habits, health and routines, I began to delve into the information available on from Jazz Pharmaceuticals. I am partnering with Jazz to learn more about my sleep health and the More Than Tired website has a narcolepsy symptom screener that guides you through a series of questions to help assess your symptoms, which is a great first step to help you consult with your doctor, and a Physician Finder database.

The website also goes into detail about the five major symptoms of narcolepsy. A few of them may surprise you!

These symptoms of narcolepsy include excessive daytime sleepiness, cataplexy, hypnagogic hallucinations, sleep paralysis and sleep disruption.(6) Not all patients have all 5 narcolepsy symptoms, but every patient with narcolepsy has excessive daytime sleepiness.(4,5) Many patients describe this sleepiness as “sleep attacks” that can occur during unusual situations during the day, such as in the middle of a meal, during a conversation, or on a walk.(3)

I was stunned to read more about hypnagogic hallucinations. This is an experience I’ve had while falling asleep for most of my adult life. I often have visual and auditory hallucinations that cause intense fear.3 Combined with sleep paralysis, which I also experience, and my nights are often not very restful!

Did you know that narcolepsy is often misunderstood, and it is estimated that approximately half of people with narcolepsy remain undiagnosed? (1,10) On average, it can take more than 10 years for patients to receive a narcolepsy diagnosis.(5) An accurate narcolepsy diagnosis can take so long because many conditions like depression, seizure disorder and other sleep disorders are associated with some of the same symptoms as narcolepsy.(1,8)

After taking the narcolepsy symptom screener, I don’t believe that I have narcolepsy, but I am still going to discuss my excessive sleepiness and hypnagogic hallucinations with my doctor. I owe it to my family and also to myself to be proactive in my personal health and wellness, and you do too!

It’s normal to feel tired sometimes, but if you are struggling to stay awake during the day, then it might be time to talk to a doctor. Visit Jazz Pharmaceuticals’ website to learn more about narcolepsy, take a symptom screener and find a sleep specialist near you.

i Ahmed I, Thorpy M. Clinical features, diagnosis and treatment of narcolepsy. Clin Chest Med. 2010; 31(2):371-381.

ii American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Central Disorders of Hypersomnolence. In: The International Classification of Sleep Disorders – Third Edition (ICSD- Online Version. Darien, IL: American Academy of Sleep Medicine; 2014. Accessed February 28, 2014.

iii Nishino study; in sleep medicine 2007. “Clinical and Neurobiological Aspects of Narcolepsy” page 375 (section 3.1)

iv Mohsenin, Vahid. “Narcolepsy – Master of Disguise: Evidence-based Recommendations for Management.” Postgraduate Medicine 121.3 (2009): 101. Web.

v Morrish E, King MA, Smith IE, Shneerson JM. Factors associated with a delay in the diagnosis of narcolepsy. Sleep Med. 2004;5(1):37-41.

vi Pelayo R, Lopes MC. Narcolepsy. In: Lee-Chiong TL. Sleep. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley and Sons, Inc.; 2006:145-149.

vii NINDS narcolepsy fact sheet. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke Web site. Accessed October 5, 2017

viii Thorpy, Michael J, and Ana C Krieger. “Delayed Diagnosis of Narcolepsy: Characterization and Impact.” Sleep Medicine, vol. 15, 2014, pp. 502–507.

ix Punjabi, Naresh M, et al. “Sleep Disorders in Regional Sleep Centers: A National Cooperative Study.” Sleep, 2000, doi:10.1093/sleep/23.4.471.

x Narcolepsy and Syndromes of Primary Excessive Daytime Somnolence Jed E. Black, M.D.,1 Stephen N. Brooks, M.D.,2 and Seiji Nishino, M.D., Ph.D.3.