Hello, there stranger. Who are you? Are you a loved one of someone that has narcolepsy? Click here. Are you a fellow PWN? Please check out my Start Here page. Do you think you have Narcolepsy but you’re not sure? Perfect! You’re in the right place. In this article, I will outline what Narcolepsy tests exist, how to get diagnosed, and next steps after diagnosis.
Were you just diagnosed? Get some support via email.
Narcolepsy is a sleeping disorder wherein a person has lost the ability to regulate their own sleep/wake cycle naturally. It’s traced back to a loss of production of the chemical hypocretin that’s produced in the brain.
The most common symptoms associated with Narcolepsy are:
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Muscle Loss (Cataplexy)
- Fragmented sleep
- Ability to enter REM sleep during the day
- Being unable to move during sleep (Sleep paralysis)
- Hypnagogic Hallucinations
The gold standard for Narcolepsy Diagnosis is the MSLT or Multiple Sleep Latency Test.
The MSLT is a group of five structured naps that occur throughout the day. Every two hours, the participant takes a nap for 20 minutes or more. The MSLT is typically completed the day proceeding the polysomnogram so the sleep specialists have a record of the night before. That way they can determine if the EDS was caused by a poor night of sleep, or if the sleep issues are indeed resulting from a sleeping disorder.
The MSLT Test
First, you need to find a sleep specialist to get one scheduled. This typically starts by contacting your insurance provider to ensure the specialist you pick will be covered by your insurance.
Once you have the MSLT on the books make sure you’re prepped for the test. Guidelines for prep:
- Wear comfortable clothes
- Make sure you’re not needed for 24 hours
- Don’t drink caffeine the night before
- Try to relax 🙂
What to expect
This will not be fun haha. The sleep study is quite uncomfortable. You’re hooked up with about a dozen of wires on your head and legs. No sleeping position will feel right and you’ll be quite grumpy after being woken up 5 times while trying to nap. Go into the test with the best attitude you can and be happy when it’s completed.
Results are typically given around 1-2 weeks after the test was conducted. You need a doctor to interpret the tests to be officially diagnosed. Lab technicians administer the tests but you’ll need to come in for a final appointment to complete the diagnosis process.
Diagnosis techniques in Production
Scientists are currently developing a new test that could be used to diagnosis Narcolepsy in the future. I first found out about this test while at the Narcolepsy Conference. The test will consist of a blood draw that looks to identify certain genetic markers that have a very high correlation with Narcolepsy. Unfortunately, the test is still being developed and not on the market.
Next steps after you’ve completed your Narcolepsy Test
After you’ve been diagnosed the first thing you should do is…breathe. This disease required quite the adjustment period for me. Remember one very important thing. YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
Next step, read my article on how to treat Narcolepsy.
After reading it make sure to apply what you’ve learned.
Stick to a regimented sleep schedule
Try light therapy
Trust me, all these adjustments will be worth it.