A Bed Time Tale
A case study, found in the Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants, was
recorded in July 2004.
A twenty-year-old member of the US Marine Corps Band underwent
testing with a sleep lab for abnormal symptoms, relating to sleep, that interfered with his
He was known for falling asleep in almost any situation, including while working,
driving a car, and eating.
Approximately one year prior to these uncontrollable sleep episodes,
he began to experience unexpected muscle weakness that caused his knees to buckle which
resulted in him collapsing quite frequently.
This man’s spells were, more times than not,
generated by laughter.
In attempt to prevent these disturbing episodes, he made a great effort to
avoid being exposed to laughter.
Surprisingly, the patient never actually lost consciousness or
appeared confused after the strange events occurred.
His caffeine intake consisted of merely one
cup of coffee each morning before he left for work, which would not be enough to cause these
The patient slept an average of five and a half hours every week night and nine
and a half hours each night over the course of the weekend.
An overnight sleep study performed
on this gentleman showed “snoring without obstructive sleep apnea,” and a daytime nap study
confirmed that he suffered from severe daytime sleepiness and inappropriate rapid eye
Once many tests were conducted, the diagnosis was established as Narcolepsy
Approximately 250,000 people in the United States and three million people worldwide
suffer with Narcolepsy each year (Kilkenny, 2002).
Unlike other disorders, narcolepsy does not
only affect the person diagnosed.
Family, friends, and co-workers must always stay aware of the
dangers that are present with the disorder.
The symptoms of Narcolepsy prevent people from
living normal, everyday lives that most people take for granted.
What was once seen as a rare
disorder has now expanded into a much greater problem worldwide (Kilkenny, 2002).
Narcolepsy is oftentimes referred to as the “first” sleep disorder of human history