N is for Narcolepsy
Narcolepsy is a chronic brain disease that prevents the individual from having normal sleep-wake cycles. In most cases, the individual will fall asleep for anywhere from a few seconds to 30 minutes at a time preventing normal interactions and behaviors. These “sleep attacks” can occur at any time with no warning, although are usually triggered by strong emotion or activity. For this reason, anyone with narcolepsy must be very careful as it can happen without warning while driving a car or any other activity that could cause harm to the patient or others.
Although the underlying causes are not known, it is that that genetics and infection may be factors in development of the condition. Most individuals that have narcolepsy start showing symptoms between the ages of 10 and 25 and also have a decrease in a brain hormone called hypocretin. There is still a lot that is unknown about narcolepsy.
Here is a video of narcoleptic dogs that are also exhibiting cataplexy – the sudden loss of muscle tone that is the most common signal of narcolepsy.