Cataplexy is a condition defined by its symptoms. It is a momentary, sudden, loss of voluntary muscle control. Also termed a ‘cataplexic episode’, symptoms of cataplexy can be frightening for sufferers – due to the nature of the symptoms; they can be debilitating, depending of the severity of the cataplectic episode.
Symptoms of cataplexy include:
- Limp or weakened muscle use.
- Facial twitching or flickering.
- Droopy eyelids.
- Muscle spasms in the tongue.
- Dropping the head or jaw.
- Knees trembling or buckling.
- Jaw tremors
- Difficulty speaking.
- Collapsing / Inability to move.
Unfortunately, there is no cure, but it can be managed. There are a number of treatments that can lessen the severity of the symptoms. There are also ways to lessen the frequency of the cataplexic episodes and the prevent the onset of cataplexy.
Management and Treatment:
Cataplexy treatment consist of steady symptom management. This can be done with medication that targets the symptoms or helps prevent the onset of cataplexy. However, it can also be treated ‘naturally’ – by practicing good sleep-hygiene. It can be brought on by strong emotional triggers such as excitement or laughing. However, the condition is almost always associated with narcolepsy. This makes people prone to cataplexy vulnerable to the impact of lack of quality sleep.
Practicing good sleep hygiene:
- Try to get 7 – 8 hours of sleep a night
- Keep a consistent sleep schedule
- Turn your bedroom into a quiet, relaxing environment.
- Keep your bedroom as dark as possible
- Avoid large, heavy meals before bed
- Avoid caffeine in the late afternoon
- Schedule regular naps throughout the day to ensure that you are properly rested.
Should you experience any symptoms of cataplexy, it is very important to consult a medical professional to get a diagnosis. They will also be able to assist you with the best treatment advice and medication depending on the severity of your case.