Will a sleep study help if I may have narcolepsy?

This question was asked in Knox, Pennsylvania on 10/08/2012.
I'm a 26 year old female, who sleeps all night and has to take naps during the day. I get these "sleep attack" almost, that no matter how I fight it I can't stay awake. I fall asleep while driving, working, watching tv, talking, eating. I have no concentration abilities anymore. I can't remember much. I feel exhausted all the time. I'll be sitting at work doing my computer work and my head will start falling forward and I can't do much to keep it up. This has been happening for probably the last 8 months and has only gotten worse with time.

Doctors Answers (4)

Anil Mattoo, MD
Answered on: 10/15/2012

Yes. you should have a sleep study. If you would like a consult with our sleep specialist, please contact us or contact a sleep specialist in your area. Thank you.

J. Douglas Hudson, MD, DABSM
Answered on: 10/10/2012

Persons with narcolepsy symptoms should undergo an overnight sleep study and this is usually followed by a multiple sleep latency test (MSLT). The sleep study is done for several reasons including adhering to the usual protocol which requires a sleep study to be done the night before an MSLT, to rule out sleep apnea (50% of narcolepsy patients have sleep apnea), to rule out periodic limb movement syndrome (common in narcolepsy patients) and to assess sleep architecture (the time spent in various stages of sleep and the fragmentation of sleep). The MSLT is a test which begins 2 hours after awakening. It consists of 4 to 5 twenty minute naps at two hour intervals. How long it takes to fall asleep (sleep latency) and if during the nap REM sleep is present. If stage REM sleep occurs during at least two naps this is considered highly suspicious of narcolepsy. Medication is available to assist with daytime alertness. For your quality of life, for your safety and for the safety of others, you should seek treatment as soon as possible.

Richard J. Schumann Jr., MD
Answered on: 10/9/2012

Yes it sound like you may have a hypersomnia sleep disorder and you need to be evaluated for sleep disordered breathing and limb movement arousals overnight with a polysomnogram and then a series of naps during the day Multiple Sleep latency Test MSLT to assess how sleepy you are and what the appropriate treatment may be. For the time being you should not drive when drowsy or operate any machinery that also could lead to injury.

Robert C. Jones, M.D.
Answered on: 10/9/2012

An over night sleep test, called a Polysomnogram, will help to determine if there is a nighttime cause for your sleepiness. Sleep apnea, Upper airways resistence syndrome, Periodic limb movements of sleep, etc. are just some of the causes for excessive daytime sleepiness. To diagnose Narcolepsy, both the nighttime test and a daytime study [called a Multiple Sleep Latency Test..i.e. MSLT] are necessary. If dream sleep [REM sleep] occurs on 2 or more of the 5 naps attempts on the MSLT, this may be consistent with narcolepsy. Evaluation by a board certified sleep specialist is highly recommended to properly diagnose and treat your condition.