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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Can Narcolepsy be caused by head injury?

    I have experienced narcolepsy for several years and have been unable to discover why it has started occurring - is this a possibility?
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    Dr David Cunnington

    Respiratory & Sleep Medicine Physician

    Specialist sleep physician delivering a high standard of clinical care to clients with complex sleep problems and promoting sleep health through research, education and advocacy. … View Profile

    There have been cases of narcolepsy described after head injury, even relatively mild head injury that doesn't necessarily result in loss of consciousness at the time. It is more common for people to describe either feeling excessively tired or having trouble sleeping after head injury, but in addition to this typical narcolepsy has been described. 

  • The Sleep Health Foundation is dedicated to raising awareness of the importance of ‘valuing sleep’ as part of a healthy lifestyle alongside regular exercise, a … View Profile

    In narcolepsy the part of the brain which controls falling asleep functions abnormally. During the day when normally awake and active, you might fall asleep with little warning, rapidly going into a stage of sleep called Rapid Eye Movement (or REM) sleep. During normal REM sleep there is both dreaming and temporary loss of muscle tone. In narcolepsy normal REM sleep may become disrupted and there might be hallucinations, cataplexy and sleep paralysis. It is thought that narcolepsy is related to lack of a brain chemical called hypocretin. In some cases (but not all) it is an inherited condition. There have been incidences of narcolepsy after head injury. Visit the Sleep Health Foundation website for more information on narcolepsy:

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