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Narcolepsy Specialist

Santa Monica Sleep Disorders Center -  - Sleep Medicine Specialist

Santa Monica Sleep Disorders Center

Sleep Medicine Specialists located in Los Angeles, CA

Narcolepsy is a neurological disorder that affects the control of sleep and waking, causing uncontrollable episodes of excessive sleepiness during the day. Daniel Norman, MD, of Santa Monica Sleep Disorders Center offers treatment options for narcolepsy to patients in Santa Monica, California, and in the greater Los Angeles area.

Narcolepsy Q & A

What’s narcolepsy?

Narcolepsy is a neurological disorder that causes patients to experience excessive daytime sleepiness and intermittent episodes of uncontrollable sleep during the day. These sudden sleep attacks may occur during any type of activity and at any time of day. People who suffer from narcolepsy may experience REM sleep immediately in the sleep cycle and periodically during the waking hours. Narcolepsy usually starts between the ages of 15-25 and, in many cases, goes undiagnosed and untreated for years.

What causes narcolepsy?

Though scientist are unsure of the exact cause of narcolepsy, they have identified genes that have a strong association with the disorder. A deficiency in the production of a chemical in the brain called hypocretin can also be responsible. Additionally, if there are abnormalities in the area the brain that contributes to the regulation of REM sleep, patients may experience narcolepsy symptoms. Experts hypothesize that patients most likely develop narcolepsy due to a combination of several factors.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of narcolepsy may include:

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS): This interferes with normal daily activities. Mental cloudiness, a lack of energy and concentration, memory lapses, a depressed mood, and extreme exhaustion may also be evident.
  • Cataplexy: This causes a sudden loss of muscle tone that leads to feelings of weakness and a loss of voluntary muscle control.
  • Hallucinations: Seeing objects or people, or hearing things that don’t exist when the patient is awakened or as they are drifting to sleep.  These can be vivid and frequently frightening.
  • Sleep paralysis: This is characterized by the temporary inability to move or speak while upon waking up.
  • Disrupted nighttime sleep: Patients may fall asleep easily at bedtime, but awaken in the middle of the night, and have difficulty returning to sleep.

How is narcolepsy treated?

Narcolepsy treatment focuses on controlling the symptoms. Most of the disabling symptoms of the disorder can be diminished with medication therapy. For instance, excessive daytime sleepiness can be treated with alertness promoting agents or stimulants, and the symptoms of abnormal REM sleep sometimes respond well to antidepressant drugs. Lifestyle adjustments also prove beneficial. These include things like regulating sleep schedules; scheduling daytime naps; and establishing a normal exercise and meal schedule.

Major Insurances Providers Accepted

At Santa Monica Sleep Disorders Center, we are in-network with many major PPO plans, and are Medicare providers. Please check with us to see if our practice is included in your health insurance network. Please be sure to provide your insurance information prior to your first visit, and update us if your insurance status changes so that we can check benefits and process claims in the most efficient manner.

Blue Shield of California
United Healthcare