There are a few ways to diagnose the chronic sleepiness that is prevalent in the neurological disorder known as Narcolepsy. This article will cover the self-diagnose that is perhaps the most accurate since we know our own bodies better than anybody. Still self-diagnosis doesn’t replace a doctor’s report and we should still seek a medical opinion if we have symptoms or narcolepsy or any other illness. It should be noted that the more proactive we are in our own wellness, the easier the medical professional’s job.
A self-diagnosis of narcolepsy would begin by noticing a persistent of sleepiness that occurs throughout the day even despite getting a good nights sleep the previous night. This is usually the first clue and one can find self-assessment tools online to help support their conclusions. That’s the benefit of living in the information age; there is not much of an excuse to not know much of anything.
There are also three questions that you will need to ask yourself once you suspect that you may have narcolepsy:
1) How likely are you to fall asleep during periods of inactivity even after you had a vacation or a weekend or any other multiple days off to catch up on your sleep?
2) Do you often feel very tired despite during the day despite the fact that you begin the day feeling rested?
3) Is dozing off at highly inappropriate times the norm for you?
*Note: Any yes to one or more of these questions needs to be discussed with your primary care physician (PCP) or a sleep specialist.
Notable symptoms of possible narcolepsy
Other common indicators of possibly having narcolepsy include having a dream-like hallucination before you actually fall asleep as well as sleep paralysis at other times when you are awake. Although these symptoms are not necessarily indicative of narcolepsy as they are often prevalent in many people who simply do not get enough sleep, a person with narcolepsy will have a true cataplexy that is more distinct and occurs way more exclusively during narcolepsy.
Many symptoms of the neurological condition known as narcolepsy are, in most cases, brushed off as just being part of life. This is the reason that the disorder largely gets misdiagnosed or overlooked entirely. Other reasons for not diagnosing narcolepsy is due to the fact that there are a lot of primary care physicians and pediatricians who are not familiar enough with the condition to even know where to begin treating it, if they can even recognize it in the first place.
Online assessment tools
Since we live in the information age where technology has made everything available at our fingertips, you can find many online assessments for virtually any condition. Narcolepsy is no different. One of these main assessments is the Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS) which you can either print off or download a PDF which will help you measure your sleepiness during the daytime hours. A score of ten is a leading indicator of troublesome sleepiness issues. Ten is actually a low number since the majority of people who have narcolepsy actually score higher than fifteen.
The ESS is structured to measure on a scale of 0-3 how likely an individual is to fall asleep as opposed to just being tired. For example:
- 0-You would never doze off or fall asleep
- 1-There lies a slight chance of you falling asleep or dozing off.
- 2-A more moderate possibility of dozing off.
- 3-An even higher chance of falling asleep.
Like any other survey, you are given a list of situations where you rank how likely you are to doze in each one:
- Sitting still and/or reading a good book.
- Watching television
- Sitting in a public setting though not being very active.
- Riding in a car as a passenger for an hour or more.
- Choosing to lie down during the afternoon for what starts as a few minutes and turns into a power nap.
- Talking to another individual while sitting still or just sitting still following lunch (with no alcohol).
- Sitting in traffic, or at a red light, while you are behind the wheel of a car.
Making sense of the Epworth score:
- Normal people who don’t have narcolepsy score ten or less.
- 11-14 is a more mild sleepiness that is average in most adults.
- 15-17 is a moderate sleepiness that indicates an issue with chronic sleepiness.
- Severe sleepiness is 18 and higher and needs to involve consulting with a primary care physician or a sleep specialist.
Another tool is the Ulianlinna Narcolepsy Scale is another online tool that is a questionnaire that can be found online. It was named for the Finnish clinic where it was developed at and can be well-validated.
This article represents the most direct way to self-evaluate yourself for narcolepsy. Self-evaluation is the most accurate since it has been said we know our bodies better than anybody, although it never replaces the medical advice of a PCP or someone who studies sleep for a living who can better treat our symptoms more accordingly.