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What is it?
· Narcolepsy is a neurological disorder that affects
the control of sleep and wakefulness
· Narcolepsy involves two main symptoms: fatigue
in the day and episodes of cataplexy (loss of
muscular control)- Other symptoms include
hallucinations and sleep paralysis
· Narcolepsy usually begins in adolescence or early
adulthood and continues throughout life
· 1 in every 2000 people suffer this
· Present in humans and animals…read more

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How it affects daily life
· Sudden and uncontrollable attacks of sleep
several times a day
· These usually last 10-20 minutes
· Sudden loss of muscular control- collapse
many times a day
· Auditory or visual hallucinations as falling
asleep or waking up…read more

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· Polysomnography is a type of sleep study
involving tests on brain activity, body & eye
movements, heart rate, BP, O2 levels
· These studies show REM sleep occurs at the
onset of sleep in narcoleptics so they don't go
through stages- could explain hallucinations…read more

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Human leukocyte antigen (HLA)
· Research also suggested a link with a gene on
chromosome 6 (the HLA complex gene) which
regulates the immune system
· It seems that this leads to the immune system
attacking and destroying the hypocretin
neurones in the hypothalamus…read more

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· In the 1990's it was found that narcoleptics had a
problem with a gene on chromosome 12 which
controls a neurotransmitter called hypocretin
· Lin et al (1999) found that narcoleptic dogs had low
levels of hypocretin
· Thannickal et al (2000) narcoleptic humans had less
hypocretin producing cells in the hypothalamus
· Unlikely that levels of hypocretin are due to inherited
factors because narcolepsy does not run in families
and has not been found concurrent in twins where one
has the disorder (Mignot, 1998)…read more

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