What Causes Narcolepsy?

what causes narcolepsy

The question of what causes narcolepsy is one that doctors and scientists still aren't able to answer with a full degree of certainty.

Based on studies and available data, sleep experts believe there are likely a combination of factors and triggers that come together to cause this neurological sleep disorder.

When studying the source of narcolepsy, researchers have found that narcoleptics have abnormalities in certain areas of their brains and also lowered levels of the brain chemical hypocretin. Hypocretin helps regulate your sleep/wake cycles and maintains your state of wakefulness. 

The area of the brain that researchers have found to be abnormal is one that controls the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) stage of sleep. It's most likely that a combination of these factors, plus other "unknowns," cause narcolepsy.

There are two other contributing factors, as well. A genetic component puts some people at a higher risk of developing narcolepsy, which can then occur after an infection or injury of the brain or hormonal changes. Additionally, a traumatic brain injury, even in someone without a genetic link, can also be one of the causes of narcolepsy.

Therefore, here are conditions that that could increase your risk of developing narcolepsy.

  • Having a close relative (parent or sibling) who is a narcoleptic

  • Suffering head trauma or a brain infection

  • Diabetes

  • Suffering from an auto-immune disease or certain thyroid diseases

  • Being at a life-stage where you are experiencing significant hormonal changes

Although the above causes and risk factors contribute to the understanding of narcolepsy causes, scientists continue to seek more answers on the underlying mechanics of this sleep disorder.

The symptoms of narcolepsy can wreak havoc on every area of your life, and if you believe you're suffering from this disorder it's vital to discuss it with your doctor.

An accurate diagnosis will help you find the treatment you need. Once you can control and manage this problem, your sleep patterns will become much more normal and your quality of life will improve.

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