Medical Questions > Mental Health > Sleep Disorders Forum

Idiopathic Hypersomnia VS. Non-cataplexic Narcolepsy?

Hey everyone,

I'm new here, and just registered to ask some questions. For a brief background picture, I am currently a university student living with (self-diagnosed) Idiopathic Hypersomnia. (I haven't yet confirmed it with an official sleep study because: 1) I cannot afford one as a broke college student, and 2) disability is seen as shameful in my family/culture (we are Chinese), so I cannot bring the condition up with my parents to use their health insurance either, lest I be disowned.)

I started showing symptoms back in 2010 during my second year of university. I found I was constantly unable to stay awake for longer than around 8 hours in a 24-hour day, which meant I required on average 16 hours of sleep a day in function properly. No matter how much sleep I got, I NEVER felt refreshed, and whenever I woke up from sleep, I would feel incredibly sleepy again after 4 hours or so. I could not avoid falling asleep -- I would start to get a "pressure headache" seemingly emanating from the middle of my brain, and my eyelids would start to droop and feel extremely heavy, and hence I would have no choice but to fall asleep immediately in that moment (kind of like a Narcoleptic person without cataplexy). Falling asleep was the only way to temporarily relieve this unusual headache and excessive daytime sleepiness.

Needless to say, my university life was agonizing, having to deal with the fact that, whereas I was a straight-A and top student throughout high school and the first year of university, the onset of my Idiopathic Hypersomnia in my second year meant I had little time for homework/studying, let alone even waking up to attend classes. As a result, my grades and GPA went to hell (among other things), and I developed depression due to my inability to function.
However, the good news is that it seems my IH has improved "slightly" since, and now I "only" need about 10-12 hours of sleep a day, in addition to taking insane amounts of caffeine throughout the day to keep myself awake. With a couple of more wakeful hours to work with, my grades have improved a bit as a result (though I still struggle to fit my work/studying into my frustrating sleep schedule).

ANYWAY, with my personal story aside, I have two questions for this thread: 1) what exactly is the difference between Idiopathic Hypersomnia and Non-Cataplexy Narcolepsy? As per my research, Narcolepsy apparently does NOT require cataplexy to qualify as Narcolepsy (i.e., Narcolepsy can still be Narcolepsy even if the patient does not have the symptom of cataplexy). So if this is the case, then how is non-cataplexic Narcolepsy different than Idiopathic Hypersomnia? (Is it because IH is still distinguished by non-REM and non-refreshing sleep, while Narcolepsy is still distinguished by refreshing REM sleep?)

My second question is in regards to recent research studies which showed that Narcoleptics, lacking the brain chemical "hypocretin", are usually also "immune" to substance addiction (e.g., alcohol, nicotine, food, etc...). However, I cannot find any research studies demonstrating that Idiopthic Hypersomniacs ALSO have this special immunity to substance addiction. I am wondering: since some medications have been shown to be effective for both IH and Narcolepsy -- which thus implies that there are some fundamental neuro-chemical similarities between the two conditions -- is it reasonable to assume that people with IH would also have addiction-resistance as a symptom (like Narcoleptics)?
I ask this because, for as long as I can remember, I've had a strange resistance to any kind of substance addiction. As a a 21-year-old, I have experimented with copious amounts of alcohol, cigarettes, weed, you name it... but never felt any degree of dependency at all, even after consuming large amounts of one substance for a prolonged amount of time. Is immunity to addiction a symptom only particular to Narcoleptics? Or can it also be found among people with IH? Would this characteristic suggest that I have non-cataplexic Narcolepsy instead of IH?



Thanks in advance,
Vivian
Did you find this post helpful?
|

replied March 22nd, 2013
Did anyone answer you?
|
Did you find this post helpful?

replied March 23rd, 2013
No, no one has answered yet.
|
Did you find this post helpful?

replied March 23rd, 2013
Active User, very eHealthy
Vivian, if you haven't done so yet, I would encourage you to go to your school's medical clinic. You can be seen by a healthcare professional there in complete confidence, and at little or no cost.
|
Did you find this post helpful?