Excessive daytime sleepiness is actually a disease. In medical terms, it is known as narcolepsy. Narcolepsy is a chronic sleep disorder, sometimes known as sleep narcolepsy. Among sleep disorders, the prevalence of narcolepsy is growing. In the U.S., more than 2,00,000 persons are affected by this disorder, but only 50,000 are diagnosed.
Narcolepsy treatment should be tailored to meet a patients’ requirements. If symptoms are mild, narcolepsy management may become easy by following a simple diet for narcolepsy. Many treatments for narcolepsy are available and diet should be an integral part of all them. In fact, narcolepsy treatments and diet should work in conjunction for faster relief.
A.M. Hussain, M.D. in his book “Diet therapy for Narcolepsy” concludes that a low-carb, ketogenic diet (LCKD) is beneficial for treating narcolepsy.
A ketogenic diet contains high-fat, adequate protein, and low carbohydrates. Avoid foods high in carbohydrates, like starchy fruits and vegetables, grains, bread, pasta, and sugar. Ketogenic diet has been used for curing difficult to control epilepsy in children. Ketogenic diet is a neuroprotective and disease-modifying diet. So, it benefits adult neurogenetic disorders, which include narcolepsy.
Because calcium and magnesium are beneficial for narcolepsy patients, diet should include dark green vegetables, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, salmon, and milk products. Deficiency of magnesium and calcium may result in restlessness and muscular weakness.
Tryptophan-rich food sources like chicken, cheese, eggs, and milk are generators of serotonin in the brain and considered good for patients suffering from narcolepsy. Serotonin stabilizes mood and encourages feelings of well-being.
Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are important types of omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oils, which improve brain function and memory. Hence, it is advisable that they be included in the diet for someone with narcolepsy.
One must increase the consumption of foods that have a high-fat content like cream and butter. Fats breakdown to produce ketones that reach the brain through circulation and help treat narcolepsy.
Tea, coffee, and other fizzy drinks must be avoided to prevent addiction while under treatment for narcolepsy. These drinks are stimulants, and with long-term use, may be unhealthy. Hence, it is best to replace them with drinks like coconut water and barley water.
With all these dietary measures, narcolepsy can rapidly be overcome in combination with prescribed medications.
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