Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder that involves excessive, uncontrollable daytime sleepiness. It is caused by a dysfunction of the brain mechanism that controls sleeping and waking. If you have narcolepsy, you may have “sleep attacks” in the middle of talking, working, or even driving. Although no cure yet exists, a combination of treatments can help control symptoms and enable you to enjoy many normal activities.
The natural internal clock that controls our 24-hour cycle of sleep and waking, circadian rhythms are easily upset by changes in schedule, and they're greatly affected by light and darkness. Jet lag is the best known circadian rhythm disorder, but this sensitive inner clock can also be disrupted by changes in routine resulting in an erratic sleep schedule.
What to do: See a doctor, who will likely first check you for underlying conditions related to PLMD. Diabetes, thyroid disorders, anemia, and a number of other conditions can cause PLMD. If you do have another condition, the doctor will treat it and see if the PLMD goes away. The next step is to control the involuntary movements with medication. Drugs that suppress muscle contractions work well for preventing PLMD. The doctor may also prescribe medication to help you sleep more deeply, with the idea of preventing the involuntary movements from keeping you in light sleep.
Sleep apnea is a common (and treatable) sleep disorder in which your breathing temporarily stops during sleep, awakening you frequently. If you have sleep apnea you may not remember these awakenings, but you’ll likely feel exhausted during the day, irritable and depressed, or see a decrease in your productivity. Sleep apnea is a serious and potentially life-threatening sleep disorder, so see a doctor right away and learn how to help yourself.