Insomnia, narcolepsy and sleep-wake rhythm disorders

Insomnia, narcolepsy and sleep-wake rhythm disorders

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Insomnia, narcolepsy and sleep-wake disorders

There are different classifications of sleep disorders, but in any case we will always find disorders that affect the onset and maintenance of sleep: insomnia, disorders that involve excessive sleepiness, sleep-wake rhythm disorders or sleep-associated dysfunctions.


  • 1 Insomnia
  • 2 Narcolepsy
  • 3 Sleep-wake rhythm disorders


It is one of the most frequent sleep disorders, since it is estimated that one third of the population has some type of insomnia, being in the female sex where there is a higher prevalence.

Among the situational factors that predispose to insomnia are situations of stress, change of habits and usual spaces, change of work shift, etc.. When insomnia is long lasting, it persists for months, it can be considered as a side effect of other pathologies or also as a side effect due to the intake of certain drugs.

It must be said that in many cases there is what is known by the name of misperception of sleep status, that is, there is a contradiction between the inability to sleep that says a person has and their indicators EEG Regarding sleep. That is, who says or perceives that he sleeps less than he really sleeps.


There are people with real problems to keep the attention during the day, as they suffer from excessive sleepiness or sleep attacks during the day. Thus, for example, we have narcoleptic patients.

Narcolepsy is a disorder in which the patient suffers frequent and intense attacks of sleep that can occur at any time of wakefulness, and with a duration each of between 5 and 30 minutes.

Narcoleptic individuals are identified by the appearance of periods of REM sleep during wakefulness.

It seems that this disorder is actually a dysfunction of wakefulness mechanisms which should inhibit the centers responsible for entering REM sleep.

In studies with dogs with these animals it has been shown that they have very high levels of receptors for acetylcholine and release of it in the area of ​​the protuberance of the Brain stem.

Many narcoleptics also present cataplexy, that is, a sudden loss of muscle tone, sudden motor inhibition, but without loss of consciousness.

At the beginning of sleep, many narcoleptics also have a temporary inability to move or speak, a phenomenon known as sleep paralysis.

Narcolepsy occurs in different animal species, apart from in humans. In 1999, a group of researchers from Stanford University (Mignot et al.) Found that narcolepsy in dogs is determined by a mutation in the gene of one of the recipients of the orexin (cerebral peptide, basically synthesized by neurons of the hypothalamus, which stimulates the intake behavior).

Recent results suggest that complex interactions between mechanisms of different daily rhythms occur in the hypothalamus, such as that of sleep and intake.

Sleep-wake rhythm disorders

Of the possible rhythm disorders, the most frequent is the schedule disorder (jet lag) which occurs as a result of time zone changes.

Different experiments point to the intake of melatonin as a possible solution of these disorders.

There are different classifications of sleep disorders depending on whether they affect quantity or quality more.

In any case, Prolonged sleep deprivation can affect the immune system of the subject, in other aspects.


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