What Is Sleep Apnea And How Is It Different From Narcolepsy

Narcolepsy and sleep apnea are technically sleep disorders. However, in most cases, narcolepsy is usually mistaken to be a fainting or a seizure disorders. As a result, this not only delays the narcolepsy diagnosis, but also interrupts the treatment initiatives.


Before we elaborate further on the two conditions, we ought to know what sleep apnea and narcolepsy is.

Sleep apnea is an ongoing disorder that is characterized by a reduction or a pause in the breathing during sleep. It is common among adults but is rare among children. While, narcolepsy is a sleep disorder that causes periods of extreme daytime sleepiness. There are instances when the disorder can also cause muscle weakness.

What Is Sleep Apnea And How Is it Different From Narcolepsy
Sleep Apnea And Narcolepsy

Sleep apnea is one of the more common sleep disorders. It is an ongoing disorder that often disrupts the affected persons sleep. The patient slips between deep and light sleep and as a result their breathing becomes shallow and it begins to pause.

Obstructive sleep apnea is the most frequent type of sleep apnea. In obstructive sleep apnea, the airways of the affected person becomes obstructed or blocked during their sleep and their breathing pauses. Loud snoring results as a result of the shallow breathing. Obstructive sleep apnea is more common in people who are obese, but it can also affect others who are not overweight. The other form, central sleep apnea is more common as it is found in people who use certain medications.

As there are no tests for the sleeping apnea, it often goes unnoticed. Changes in your lifestyle, devices that assist breathing are the most common methods used to treat sleep apnea. Medicines typically aren’t used to treat the condition. Sleep apnea is one of the main reasons of daytime tiredness and sleepiness.

The most common symptoms that the affected person has is a sore throat or dry mouth, morning headaches as a result of restless sleep at night, waking frequently at night, memory lapses, moodiness and finding difficulty in concentrating. It is advised that you see a sleep specialist if you spot any of the above symptoms.

On the other hand, narcoleptics have trouble with their sleeping habits. People with narcolepsy sleep disorder condition suddenly fall asleep while they are watching television or reading and in some cases even while eating or talking.

The main signs of the narcolepsy syndrome are extreme daytime sleepiness, cataplexy while awake, and hallucinations during sleep. Narcolepsy often is the cause of cataplexy, which causes a sudden loss in your muscles especially when you are wide awake. It resembles fainting or a seizure as it causes you to drop whatever you are holding. This may last for a few seconds or minutes followed by strong emotions.

Narcolepsy symptoms are difficult to identify and it can affect both women and men. Narcolepsy sleep disorder signs generally show up during the teenage years. The disorder is rare in children who are five years and below. People who have narcolepsy sleep disorder usually find it difficult to function at school, work or home mainly due to their extreme tiredness and sleepiness.

Narcolepsy is usually mistaken to be a fainting or a seizure disorder, or sometimes classified as lethargy or learning problems for school going children. It is even harder to diagnose the condition when the narcolepsy cataplexy symptoms are mild. There is no cure that has been found for narcolepsy as of date, but therapy along with lifestyle changes can reduce the condition.

So, next time someone close to you or a friend has been diagnosed with epilepsy, check for symptoms of both narcolepsy and sleep apnea, before starting them on anti-epileptic medication.


Though there is no clear relationship between sleep apnea and narcolepsy, it is generally believed that an individual can experience multiple sleep disorders at the same time.

While sleep apnea ensues due the failing of the brain or due to difficulty in breathing… Narcolepsy is a result of nerve cells malfunctioning and a person constantly falls asleep during the daytime.


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