Recent researches have shown narcolepsy and weight gain to be strongly associated with each other. Individuals with non-typical or typical narcolepsy exhibit low basal metabolism rates and hence tend to put on extra weight. Interestingly, it was also found that owing to caloric restriction, narcolepsy patients have a propensity to eat half of the total intake by the normal individuals.
Although the levels of thyroid, cortisol, sex hormones, and plasma glucose are normal in these patients, plasma levels of prolactin are found to be almost twice the advisable range. This is believed to be one of the major causes for narcolepsy patients to gain excess weight. A recent research has also pointed to the fact that narcoleptic patients exhibit a moderate eating disorder, characterized by bulimia nervosa, and abnormally high EAT-40 scores. The disorder is often characterized by sudden, uncontrollable cravings for food, several metabolic changes within the body, and binge eating. All these factors lead to an obvious weight gain in patients with narcolepsy.
Thus, abnormalities associated with narcolepsy, like low rates of basal metabolism, disturbances in sleep patterns, eating disorders, excessive daytime sleeping, and resulting changes in behavior, lead to a balance in positive energy in the patient, causing him/her to become overweight in due course of time. Lack of hypocretin hormone in narcoleptic individuals impairs wakefulness, thereby causing excessive sleep. Consequently, the lipid metabolism slows downs and excess fats get stored in the body leading to gain in weight. This tendency to put on excess weight can be managed by adopting healthy lifestyles, exercising, taking short naps in between meals, and changes in eating routines.
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