A few weeks ago, I was scouring the internet for devices that could help narcolepsy. stumbled upon a fake invention (presumably it’s a college website design class or something of that nature) advertising “The Narco Ring,” an anti-narcoleptic ring you wear to “The Narco-Ring – Helping Narcoleptics Remain Alert During Critical Awareness Moments.” Although to my despair it turned out to be a fake product, you can see why I was excited:
First it had to be powered by some source. For a ring since it is small we knew something as double A batteries would not work. However the battery called coin cell or button cell battery that operates on small electronics such as wrist watches, calculators, hearing aids, or on the central printed circuit board we figured would do just fine to operate the Narco-ring.
Then what needed to be done is to figure out how much of the force of a vibration or shock is needed and for how long. For each person it would more than likely differ, because it would depend on how sensitive their finger is to the vibration and if they are a deep sleeper or not. Also the vibration may not be enough to wake them up with even the highest vibration, so then a shock would be used.
A new sensor would need to be created for this ring. Motion senors have been created where if someone or something moves then it triggers an alarm and it goes off letting someone or something know that there is something making motion. For our ring we need just the opposite of that where there is a sensor on the Narco-ring that detects when your finger isn’t moving.
Pretty clever, huh?
In all seriousness, though, there are a few devices that people are using to help narcoleptic symptoms. I haven’t personally tried any of these yet, but have just placed an order, and very confident they work based on testimonials I’ve received.
The idea behind using amber lenses to block blue light to improve sleep is basically that:
- Blue wavelengths are important for circadian rhythms
- When and how much light (especially blue light) you receive affects sleep
- Blocking blue light mimics “physiological darkness” and could lead to improved sleep cycles, which is impaired in narcolepsy.
Blue light evolutionarily should only really come from the sun, fires, and other natural sources of light. So, your body has evolved to use these light cues to signal when it is appropriate to sleep, and when it is appropriate to wake up.
Much of the blue light we receive at inappropriate times (mainly when it is dark outside) are coming from not only articficial lighting systems within the home, but from electronic devices. Even over the past 10 years, the number of people using the internet, and presumably using computers and surfing the web, phones, or iPads has increased dramatically. In the study linked above, patients (non-narcoleptic) wore blue light blocking glasses for three hours prior to bed time. They demonstrated that those wearing blue light blocking glasses:
- had significant improvement in sleep quality compared to the control group
- had significantly improved mood relative to controls
Phototherapy a.k.a. Light Boxes
Light therapy is essentially waking up in the morning and sitting in front of a light box for about 1/2 an hour to “reset” your circadian clock. The idea is basically the exact same as the blue light blocking glasses, except this time you’d like to have it. Receiving cues that it is morning time (a time to be awake and alert) may be able to help, especially if delayed awakening is a problem.
These products can be a bit of an expense ($70-$140), but it might be worthwhile if you can rouse yourself enough to go take a walk outside, or if you don’t live in the Sunshine State.