re you struggling with narcolepsy? Do you feel tired all the time and have trouble staying awake?
One of the best treatments for narcolepsy is a diet that has been specifically designed to help people with this sleeping disorder. If you're looking for more information about an effective narcolepsy diet, then read on!
Narcolepsy is a disorder of the nervous system that affects your ability to sleep. It can cause people with narcolepsy to fall asleep at inappropriate times and places, such as in the middle of conversations or while eating dinner. It can also cause sudden episodes of intense daytime sleepiness.
Narcolepsy affects about 200,000 people in the US and is one of the most common neurological disorders after Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
Narcoleptics may suffer short attacks called "sleep episodes" or have a chronic sleep disorder for which they need medication to keep them awake.
Sleep episodes can last from seconds to minutes. It is often accompanied by vivid hallucinations and may include sleep paralysis, muscle weakness, or difficulty generating speech.
Sleep attacks occur most commonly between midnight and noon, but they are not restricted solely to this period. They also tend to be unpredictable in the time they strike.
There is still no cure for narcolepsy. It is a lifelong condition that worsens over time if not treated or controlled by medication.
The sudden attacks of intense sleepiness can be so overwhelming that they interfere with a person's ability to do anything, causing them to fall asleep.
These episodes are called cataplexy and usually last from 15 seconds to two minutes. They may also cause muscle weakness in the arms or legs on one side of the body, slurred speech, or feelings of fear and anxiety.
People with narcolepsy may not fall asleep at all during the day and night for weeks or even months, only to have a period of one week or less when sleep is much deeper than usual.
Narcolepsy can seriously impact your quality of life, making it difficult to work or attend school and maintain personal relationships.
Types Of Narcolepsy
There are different types of narcolepsy:
Type I Narcolepsy
This is the most common type of narcolepsy and will usually occur in children or adolescents. The attacks can happen at any time, but they are more likely to come on during periods of stress or illness.
Type II Narcolepsy
This type of narcolepsy is more common in adults and appears to be inherited, with the condition often running in families.
Attacks are mainly at night or during relaxed wakefulness when people should be asleep such as naps. Muscle weakness symptoms, sleep paralysis, and cataplexy is all of this type.
This type of narcolepsy will show up when a person has an illness or takes medication that causes brain cells to stop working correctly and can lead to an attack.
Narcolepsy affects people differently, and the symptoms can range from mild to severe for any given person over time. The symptoms of this condition vary, but common symptoms include:
- Unilateral muscle weakness (i.e., one arm might be weaker than the other)
- Generalized muscular rigidity or bradykinesia
- Excessive daytime sleepiness.
- Sleep paralysis.
- Cataplexy, a sudden loss of muscle tone triggered by strong emotions like laughter or anger. This typically only happens in about two-thirds of cases.
- Waking up during nighttime sleep for long periods and inability to fall back asleep.
- Hypnagogic hallucinations, vivid dreams that occur at the onset of sleep, and hypnic jerks, sudden muscle contractions experienced when falling asleep or waking up.
Narcolepsy affects people differently, and the symptoms can range from mild to severe for any given person over time.
3 Great Diet For Narcolepsy
The best way for people with narcolepsy to manage their condition is through a normal diet. This can help reduce some symptoms such as daytime sleepiness and cataplexy.
Ketogenic Diet For Narcolepsy
The ketogenic diet is a high fat, low carb diet that relies on the body to produce ketones for glucose to be used as an energy source.
Ketosis happens after prolonged periods without food and when carbohydrate intake is very limited. This state can help reduce symptoms of narcolepsy by stabilizing blood sugar levels.
A typical ketogenic diet consists of 25-30% protein, 50-60% fat, and 20-25% carbohydrate. Some people may need to tweak their diets by adding more carbs or fats depending on how they feel when in the state of ketosis.
There are many variations to this type of diet that is best to discuss with your physician if you consider this approach.
The Ketogenic Diet for Breakfast
One of the best keto breakfasts is eggs and bacon, or a breakfast sausage wrapped in an egg omelet with cheese. Another option for breakfast would be leftover dinner from last night such as pulled pork tacos, lasagna, or chili.
The Ketogenic Diet For Lunch
For lunch, on a ketogenic diet, your best bet is to eat meats with salad and vegetables as the main course. This will ensure you have enough fat in your meal without too many carbs.
Some great options are salmon steak served over mixed greens, grilled chicken breast sprinkled with blue cheese over mixed greens, or a burger patty with bacon and melted cheddar.
Ketogenic Diet For Dinner
One of the best dining options on a keto diet is grilled steak and salad served with olive oil dressing to get all of your fat grams in.
Another option would be salmon fillets topped with capers, onions, and garlic butter. The third option for dinner on keto might be grilled pork chops served with a side of broccoli or squash mixed in an olive oil sauce to get your vegetables in the mix as well.
Gluten-Free Diet For Narcolepsy
This diet is often recommended for those who suffer from narcolepsy and gluten allergies. The best food to consume is fresh fruits, vegetables, lean meats like chicken breast, fish, or seafood like herring in olive oil, walnuts, and yogurt.
Rice milk is also recommended for those who are gluten intolerant. This kind of diet controls the symptoms of narcolepsy by providing relief and a more refreshed feeling.
The Gluten-Free Diet For Breakfast
- Rice milk
- Banana with walnuts
- Plain oatmeal and cinnamon
The Gluten-Free Diet For Lunch
- Tuna sandwich, whole wheat bread, and reduced-fat mayonnaise.
- Add some fresh lettuce leaves to balance the carbs from the pasta salad.
- Brown rice pilaf mixed in a bowl of vegetables.
The Gluten-Free Diet For Dinner
- Grilled salmon with olive oil and lemon.
- Add a side of roasted sweet potatoes, broccoli, and asparagus to balance the carbs from the fish course.
- End your day by having some gluten-free cereal or oatmeal topped with fruit such as strawberries and blueberries.
Low-Carbs Diet For Narcolepsy
A low-carb diet has been shown to have the best results for people with narcolepsy. There are many studies that show that a balanced meal plan is important, but in this case, it can actually be detrimental because of how the body processes carbohydrates and sleep patterns.
When your brain doesn't get enough glucose from carbs, you might experience a sudden drop in blood pressure.
Studies have shown that one of the best ways to manage narcolepsy is by following a low-carb diet or even cutting out carbs altogether.
There are many studies that show that a balanced meal plan is important, but in this case, it can actually be detrimental because of how the body processes carbohydrates and sleep patterns. When your brain doesn't get enough glucose from carbs, you might experience a sudden drop in blood pressure.
The Low-Carbs Diet For Breakfast
- Bacon, Ham or Sausage
The Low-carbs diet for Lunch:
- Salads with grilled chicken and salmon
- Roasted vegetables in an olive oil dressing.
- Avoid heavy dressings such as ranch or Caesar salad dressing which contain a lot of carbs. It is best to avoid heavy dressings.
The Low-Carbs Diet For Dinner
- Steak with grilled vegetables or salad (no dressing)
- Fish tacos made with corn tortillas and cabbage slaw, no flour tortilla wraps which are high in carbs.
Narcolepsy is not a condition that can be identified through blood work, X-rays, or other diagnostic tests.
Diagnosis of narcolepsy is usually done by ruling out conditions with similar symptoms. For example, people who experience excessive daytime sleepiness and cataplexy are often diagnosed with narcolepsy if other conditions are ruled out.
Medical professionals like a sleep specialist will often conduct a sleep study to determine how well their patient is sleeping during the night and what kind of quality of sleep they're getting.
These studies measure brain activity, heart rate, eye movement, and muscle tone while someone sleeps to identify any irregularities or behavioral patterns that may indicate narcolepsy.
The sleep study is often followed by the Multiple Sleep Latency Test (MSLT), which measures how quickly a person falls asleep, and whether they experience any symptoms of narcolepsy during naps in between daytime awakenings.
These tests can be time-consuming but are not considered invasive or stressful for most people who have them.
Narcolepsy is a chronic disorder that affects the brain's ability to regulate sleep-wake cycles normally, and some people will have symptoms of this condition throughout their lives.
However, there are treatments available for this condition that can help people with narcolepsy feel more alert during the day and improve the quality of sleep at night.
Tips For Narcolepsy Diet
- Limit your consumption of foods with stimulants, like coffee and tea. Some people find coffee and tea to be helpful, but these are stimulants that can lead to insomnia.
- Eat more foods with tryptophan in them. Tryptophan is an amino acid found in some foods like turkey and chicken (turkey also has a lot of B vitamins). It helps promote sleepiness by increasing serotonin production in the brain.
- Include foods that contain melatonin. These include nuts, seeds, and bananas, as well as some plants like oats and tomatoes.
- Avoid or limit spicy food intake at night time because it can lead to heartburn which can inhibit sleepiness. Spicy food is also more likely to cause indigestion or stomach pain, making it difficult to sleep.
- Avoid or limit food intake before bedtime because eating can lead to heartburn which would inhibit sleepiness and cause indigestion. It also causes stomach pain, which in turn makes it more difficult to get a good night's rest.
- Eat a variety of healthy carbohydrates to maintain the energy level in your body. Include vegetables, fruits, and whole grains as part of this regimen. This will help you control blood sugar levels, leading to narcoleptic symptoms such as hypersomnia or insomnia.
- Eat foods that are rich in omega fatty acids such as fish, nuts, and olive oil. This will help to reduce the risk of heart disease and improve cholesterol levels.
- Include a variety of fruits and vegetables with every meal or snack to provide necessary vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants for your body's immune system so it can deal with the stress from narcolepsy.
- Avoid heavy meals before bed because they will take longer to digest and can make it hard for you to fall asleep.
- Get enough sleep! Narcoleptic patients should get seven to eight hours of quality sleep at night and take a short nap during the day if needed.
Stop Your Narcolepsy From Getting Worse
Avoid these practices to reduce narcolepsy:
- Lack of sleep or restful sleep. This can make symptoms worse, as your body is already tired and needs to fight off the additional stressors at night.
- Dehydration - it's important to stay hydrated during this time so that you don't become even more drained from a lack of fluids.
- Too Much Caffeine
- Alcohol - Some people choose to drink alcohol during this time, but it can worsen symptoms.
The best diet for narcolepsy is the one that works to keep your blood sugar levels stable, as well as keeps you feeling satiated.
This can help reduce or eliminate sleep attacks and cataplexy episodes. This specific type of dietary plan aims to train the body's natural response to food intake, so it doesn't feel starved or famished.
Your diet should include a range of healthy, high-quality food intake with enough variety to keep it interesting and enjoyable.
It's best not to go too long without eating anything because this will only make you more ravenous when the next meal does come around, so trying to institute mini snacks every two hours is recommended.
Eating clean and healthy foods is always best, but the goal of this diet isn't to stop eating things like chocolate or ice cream. It's just that you don't need a lot of those types of food in your daily regimen.
The main point here is that if you want to get control over narcolepsy, then you need to go about it in a way that will be sustainable and enjoyable.