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Sleep Attack Trigger? Someting Else?

17 posts in this topic

I have a question. I know there is much ado about what triggers cataplexy. Some people allow for a much greater variety of triggers while many are quite strict in defining "classical" or "typical" cataplexy. But do sleep attacks have triggers? And what is the actual difference between a sleep attack and cataplexy? Is it just the trigger mechanism, emotion for one and... whatever (or nothing) for the other?

I do have a reason for asking. One day last week, I was overcome with weirdness. I had a "thing". Whatever you want to call it, I dunno. I was in a dollar store with poor lighting. In fact the lights (only in the specific aisle I needed of course *shakes fist*) were flickering. At first I thought it was me. Not causing them to flicker *giggles* but rather seeing flickering lights instead of normally functioning lights. I was feeling a bit drowsy before this, actually planning to find a comfy seat after I was done. Anywho, sometimes before a sleep attack my vision gets blurry. But this was not the case. The lights made me dizzy and woozy and I got that headrush feeling. So I quickly stumbled out of the store, letting 2 employees know about the lights on my way out. It was like a sleep attack. Jelly and couldn't talk. I found a bench and did a little awkward sideways leaning as my eyes closed and I started "napping". I could hear everything going on and I was completely conscious (I think, I mean I can't be sure that I wasn't out of it for bits of time. During my MSLT I didn't think I'd fallen asleep at all). It was odd because I was aware that I could feel my eyes flickering. I have no idea what it would look like from someone else perspective, but I could FEEL them. And the only thing I could think of was that it all started with the stupid lights. Can lights do that? Was I having a seizure??? If I was having a seizure would I be able to mentally debate whether or not I was having a seizure???

I don't know how long that lasted. I was fighting it the whole time. Couldn't have been more than... maybe 5 minutes. I don't know, I'm bad with time. But after I "woke up" I still felt like I was in the middle of a sleep attack. Still Jello-y. I ended up at Guest Services and asked for somewhere to just lay down. They were trying to figure out where I could go, calling security. I told them I'd be fine in 20 minutes but I needed to lie down now. In the end they were really good and I flopped on the floor for 5-10 minutes. But I could hear them and feel and was aware enough to take mental notes about concerns they were having that I could address when I "woke up".

So then I did wake up. Right as rain. Happy and all that jazz.

But what the.....

What was that? Even now I have to conclude that the lights had something to do with it. I was only in that aisle for a minute and it was noticeable decline right after. And it wasn't a normal sleep attack either. Those I'm used to. Sorta. But this was two pseudo-naps in one episode.

Now I'm kinda paranoid that I was having some kind of seizure. It hasn't happened since though. Just "normal" abnormal sleep stuff.

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There has actually been some interesting theories regarding lighting and N, especially if it is florescent lighting... I myself have issues with that. like it is a certain frequency of flicker that sets me off.... I really dont know much about it, but I know that Charles (Chuck) Forcht was plannning on doing some research this year about it. He is on my friends list on Facebook if you want to look him up and ask him any questions. We once had an extremely long and interesting conversation about it...so I an attest that he is at least on the right track....

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There has actually been some interesting theories regarding lighting and N, especially if it is florescent lighting... I myself have issues with that. like it is a certain frequency of flicker that sets me off.... I really dont know much about it, but I know that Charles (Chuck) Forcht was plannning on doing some research this year about it. He is on my friends list on Facebook if you want to look him up and ask him any questions. We once had an extremely long and interesting conversation about it...so I an attest that he is at least on the right track....

honestly.. i have not ever seen a pattern to my sleep attacks..i did crash today in walmart... zoned out and walked around in a stupor till i realized what was happening.. but getting into the sunlight did not help.. I know if it happens I just have to ride it out.

Before i knew it was narcolepsy i thought i was having carb over load.. then i went on atkins... still happened... then i thought i was allergic to diet coke or nutrasweet.. casue i would get sleepy after i drank one.. or so i thought so i eliminated that from my diet... but of course it still happend..

now i just know.. i go into a stupor...and try not to hurt myself or others.. sigh..

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Eww, I guess that is typical with narcolepsy thinking you are awake because you hear what is going on around you but others tell you you were snoring. I frequently argue with my kids and fiance' telling them that I was awake and heard their conversations. They freak out when I tell them what they were talking about. Now the fluorescent lighting does make me very sleepy fast. I know that this type of lighting flashes so fast that we cannot see it on most occasions. Flashing lights tend to put humans in a zone if you stare at it long enough. Unfortunately, it could be used as kryptonite against narcoleptics.

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"could be used as kryptonite against narcoleptics"

This thought makes me giggle.

And then picture "Narc-Man" as a comic book superhero starring in such raucous adventures as "Oh, The Wrongs I Will Avenge When I Wake Up!" and "Planning Doesn't Require Consciousness, Evildoer!" Fortunately it would be a pretty family-friendly comic, as most of the frames would show Narc-Man asleep. But he would be listening in on the plots being formed while the bad guys think they have caught him unawares and valiantly counter-plotting to foil their nefarious (or more likely with an opponent such as Narc-Man, moderately irritating) shenanigans.

End scene.

Back in reality, it's nice to know that others out there know what I mean and it always feels nice to be assured you're not crazy. Or seizing. LOL. I will now add "research fluorescent light flickering/narcolepsy" to my list of things to do. Nifty.

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And then picture "Narc-Man" as a comic book superhero starring in such raucous adventures as "Oh, The Wrongs I Will Avenge When I Wake Up!" and "Planning Doesn't Require Consciousness, Evildoer!" Fortunately it would be a pretty family-friendly comic, as most of the frames would show Narc-Man asleep. But he would be listening in on the plots being formed while the bad guys think they have caught him unawares and valiantly counter-plotting to foil their nefarious (or more likely with an opponent such as Narc-Man, moderately irritating) shenanigans.

End scene.

And how 'bout those Narc-Man fight sequences?: BAM! WHAM! ZZZZZZ!

:D

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You know it's funny when you flip your fork and throw rice all over yourself. I've decided that's my new standard for humour. And no, I'm claiming my mother never did tell me not to play with my food.

Oooh!! I think one of Narc-Man's superpowers should be the ability to avoid being hit by bullets!! He excels at turning to jelly and wobbling around them...

Not exactly "faster than a speeding bullet" but I'd take it.

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There should be a mandate that all fluorescent lighting show be immediately taken down and relocated, say into prisons, and replaced by proper lighting, for fluorescent lighting serves only two purposes:

1. to trigger migraine headaches and/or narcoleptic attacks et al.

or

2. to implore women to wear a head to toe snowsuit to the beach in the summer once she gets a four-way look at herself in a bathing suit at the local (insert department store here). Not even Heidi Klum could get away with fluorescent lighting, umkay? Fact.

Fluorescent lighting requires uber processing of our brains and so it's of no surprise that it's rough on a neurological illness. I'm exhausted twice as fast if I have to deal with fluorescent lighting in any capacity.

jenji

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I've never thought to blame the lighting on my N problems. This makes sense to be a trigger of them though, because most of my sleep attacks happened in school. Schools use fluorescent lighting. I also always thought I never fell asleep in school, I was sure I was awake and just resting my eyes. I was shocked when the doctor told me I fell asleep in all of my naps during my nap study too.

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Those kind of attacks happen to me quite often, especially in big stores with fluorescent lights. All of a sudden, I get really sleepy, and have to get out of there right away so I can lie down. That used to happen in school as well, which also had the same kind of lights.

It happened a lot like you described...I was still partly conscious and could hear what was going on. Another time, I collapsed on a shopping cart momentarily. I don't know if it was the lights that triggered the attack, or if the attack was happening anyway, and the lights somehow prevented me from going to sleep fully. Or maybe the lights had nothing to do with it, and I was just extremely sleepy. But it does feel like things like that trigger sleep attacks more than being in other situations would.

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I've had this problem forever too! I always blamed extreme tiredness on flourescent lights, as they always seemed to make things worse. I also had this problem in school. and work, where I'm working now. They even make colors look weird to me sometimes. Hate flourescents! I don't know what is in them that causes us problems, but I really wish they were never invented.

Oh, and the flickering ones, I can't be around them. Those totally mess me up.

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Is it just fluorescent lights that cause this problem for you? How do regular lightbulbs affect you? Or what about sunlight?

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Sheesh, hearing all of the responses makes me feel much better.

And actually now that I think about it, Shopper's Drugmart always makes me feel funny. I can wander around drugstores for an hour. And grocery stores. It's gotta be the fluorescent lights. That's the only connecting factor I can see. Except it's not a bad feeling per se. Just... spacey. It's what I imagine getting "buzzed" would feel like. Spacey and dippy and generally staring at inanimate objects not having a clue what I'm doing. When the lights flicker though... man. Evil. I've never had anything quite that weird happen. Dizzy, loopy and what have you sure but that was flat out crazy.

I pretty much decided that I wasn't having a seizure when I realized that I was analysing the possibility of it being a seizure WHILE it was happening. I figured if it was a proper seizure I'd be unconscious. Or at least unable to reason my way out of it. Reassurance is always nice though.

And as for other lights, I don't notice much of a problem. I don't like BRIGHT lights though. Ironically, sunshine in the the winter is the worst when everything is covered in white snow and the sun shines brightly the world can seem almost reflective in it's vibrancy. Out west it's worse then where I live. Smog has it's uses. :lol: I doubt that's a Narcolepsy thing though. I hate loud noises and clothing tags and other sensory annoyances like that. It's more of an overexcitability thing. But I'd be interested in others thoughts on the subject.

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I've had this problem forever too! I always blamed extreme tiredness on flourescent lights, as they always seemed to make things worse. I also had this problem in school. and work, where I'm working now. They even make colors look weird to me sometimes. Hate flourescents! I don't know what is in them that causes us problems, but I really wish they were never invented.

Oh, and the flickering ones, I can't be around them. Those totally mess me up.

my too

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Is it just fluorescent lights that cause this problem for you? How do regular lightbulbs affect you? Or what about sunlight?

regular lightbulbs ok for me. sunlight = BEST, but who doesn't like some good ole sunshine in their lives?

hubs wants flouro bulbs used in house. he doesn't understand how they annoy me, make me feel badly. The flickering and the nonwhite light don't bother him. Supposedly there's flouro bulbs now that are white, and we have them. I have yet to experience the nonflickering white light from them, though. We compromised: flouro in kitchen, flouro in the bathroom he uses, in the reading lamp he uses, and half fluoro/half regular in living room.

I like 100W bulbs, but they are energy wasters.

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ah snow with sun is the worse!! i also hate when it rains a lot at night and the lights reflect off the road and what not... then i drive like an old grampa lol

I was going to include this in my last post, sorry for multiple posts...

HEY, THAT'S ME!

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Strobing flourescent lights have a negetive effect on me too. They also give off an almost inaudible high frequency, high-pitched sound. I can hear it! My daughter, a non-narcoleptic gets migraines from cheap store lighting. You should tell your neurologist what happened. Store carpet and other chemical smells can trigger an attack, too. I've had to pull off the road and take a 20 minute snooze when only 3 blocks from home after being in a store with flourescent lights. Still, you should tell your neurologist. It might be significant.

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