As a board-certified family nurse practitioner working in a sleep medicine clinic, Ellen Wermter has seen a wide variety of sleep disorders, including severe cases of sleep apnea, insomnia, narcolepsy, and restless leg syndrome. She joins the podcast to discuss what she sees from this unique perspective—one that isn’t often portrayed at all or portrayed correctly in the media. For example, she explains that narcolepsy is not only underrecognized but also misunderstood by many people; contrary to popular belief, the main presentation of narcolepsy is excessive daytime sleepiness—not unexpected episodes of falling to the ground and entering a deep sleep.
Wermter discusses how “excessive daytime sleepiness” is defined and identified clinically, the causes of narcolepsy—which are likely both genetic and environmental in nature—and one of the newest types of treatment for narcolepsy, which is not yet FDA-approved, but can be used in the US through a program called PEACE since it’s been shown to be successful in Europe.
She also discusses sleep paralysis and cataplexy, which happen when the REM stage of sleep intrudes on the waking hours, one of the lesser common symptoms of sleep apnea, and how sleep studies work—despite the challenges.
Tune in for the full conversation, and find resources by visiting the Narcolepsy Network, Project Sleep, the National Sleep Foundation, and local support groups.