Alternative Therapies for Managing Narcolepsy
Regular Sleeping Patterns and Naps
Take two 15-minute naps during the day to supplement a regular, eight-hour sleep schedule at night. Short naps should occur at regular intervals during the day to ward off sleepiness for up to three hours. Some patients may need longer naps. Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends, to help your body get on a routine sleep schedule.
Regular, moderate exercise can help you feel more awake during the day and sleepier at night. Try to get in a workout four to five hours before bedtime. Light workouts can manage metabolism, weight and stress as a result of the improved breathing patterns, cardiac muscle movements and blood pressure reduction associated with exercise. Breathing exercises may help manage stress and reduce sleeplessness at night.
Avoid heavy meals, nicotine and alcohol, especially before bedtime. All three of these things may interfere with sleep. Some nutrients may help manage narcolepsy, including calcium, magnesium, chromium and omega-3 fatty acids. Make sure you consume optimum amounts of B-complex vitamins as well as vitamins C, E and D. Food intolerance may have a link to narcolepsy. Your doctor or dietitian can help you with a food elimination diet to ascertain what foods may cause a lack of sleep at night or drowsiness during the day. Wheat, dairy, corn and chocolate could lead to irregular sleep patterns.
Stress management techniques may also help narcolepsy patients relax and determine possible emotional or psychological causes of the disorder. Possible alternative therapies to alleviate stress include prayer, meditation, imagery, acupuncture, and massage. Yoga is both a way to gain a meditative state and a daily routine of exercise and stress reduction. A dream journal can pinpoint any psychological stresses that force you to wake up at night. Write down dream imagery in a bedside journal for later study.
Narcolepsy refers to a sleep disorder whereby patients experience extreme sleepiness during the day. Some have a companion side effect known as cataplexy. Cataplexy is when someone's muscles suddenly feel weak after experiencing strong emotions. Patients with narcolepsy typically feel drowsy after three to four hours and then take naps. Prescription drugs that treat narcolepsy include modafinil, armodafinil and sodium oxybate. Read on to learn about alternative therapies for this condition that go beyond standard drug treatments.
If you feel overly tired during the day while having trouble sleeping at night, consult your primary care physician. A doctor can recommend treatment options after assessing your overall health, looking at your medical history and noting your family history. Discuss alternative therapies with your doctor that may supplement traditional methods of treating narcolepsy.