narcoleptic, adj., n.
/nahr"keuh lep'see/, n. Pathol.
a condition characterized by frequent and uncontrollable periods of deep sleep.
[1875-80; NARCO- + (EPI)LEPSY]

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Sleep disorder with sudden, uncontrollable spells of daytime sleep and disturbances of nighttime sleep.

It usually begins in youth or early adulthood and is presumably due to dysfunction of certain brain structures. Narcoleptics can fall asleep anywhere and anytime
for instance, while talking, eating, or driving. Sleep usually lasts a moment, rarely over an hour, and the narcoleptic is easily awakened. Sleep paralysis, normal when falling asleep or waking, occurs during full consciousness in narcolepsy, with brief but complete inability to move.

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▪ sleep disturbance
      a sleep disturbance that is characterized by sudden, uncontrollable spells of sleep during the day, with disturbances of sleep at night.

      The syndrome usually occurs in youth or early adult life and is presumably due to dysfunction of the diencephalic reticular system. The narcoleptic can fall asleep anywhere, anytime—while in conversation, at work, while eating, and even when standing or walking. Sleep may last a few seconds or several minutes, rarely for more than an hour, and the narcoleptic is easily awakened to an alert state. Narcoleptics may also experience sleep paralysis, which normally occurs as one is either falling asleep or awakening. Although mentally alert, the narcoleptic experiencing sleep paralysis is totally unable to move for a very brief period. Most narcoleptics reveal rapid eye movement (REM) at the onset of sleep, in contrast to normal sleep, in which REM occurs about 90 minutes after the onset of sleep. Associated with narcolepsy is cataplexy, a brief impairment of muscle tone such as a limpness of the arms or legs.

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Universalium. 2010.

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