It's that time again, and I am sifting through emails and articles and trying to make final cuts, but there's one blog in particular that elicited quite a response, and that much to my surprise. The blog in question is from a couple weeks ago, when I described my battles with a recent case of.... well... "narcolepsy" is the only way to describe it: a sudden, overwhelming onset of fatigue and sleep.
Little did I know that there are a lot of you out there going through the same, or something similar, and I have decided that I will try to summarize the comments people have sent, as a way of defining the phenomenon more adequately. What many of these comments displayed or were concerned with was the mechanism of the phenomenon, and here we will discover a whole variety of explanations. What is most evident from the variety of explanations is that the phenomenon is widespread enough and severe enough that many of you have sought and researched various explanations to begin with.
So let me review some of the emails and comments I received, by way of the mechanisms people have proposed:
Explanation one: Diet: One gentleman, Mr. W., emailed and stated that it could be diet related by too much intake of cereals and sugars, and too low a chromium and vanadium intake. He advised to cut all this back, even in the form of fruits and juices, and increase my protein intake. The sudden fatigue, he observed, was often the symptom of type two Diabetes onset.
Except there's one problem in my case (and I suspect, in the case of my friend and colleague with whom I originally compared notes on this story, for I happen to know he watches his diet carefully). The problem in my case is that I already am on a high protein diet, and do not intake that much sugar. Most of the sweets consumption in my case is via drinks, and even then, I use artificial sweetners more often than not.(I know I know! Don't send me a bunch of emails about that please.) My point here is that even though I do eat a lot of breads, and in some cases, pasta, the onset of these narcolepsy attacks is not coordinated in any fashion that I can see with the timing of my meals. Moreover, some days will pass when my food intake is more or less normally what it is, and the attacks do not occur at all.
Example one: A gentleman, Mr. F.S., wrote and stated that originally he thought it was simply age-related, he being 65 years old. When I read the rest of his comment, however, I readily identified almost all the same sets of phenomena as I had been experiencing, for Mr. F.S. works from home, and, like me, spends a great deal of time on, his computer. He indicated that many times his family has found him, slumped over his computer keyboard, mouse in hand, sound asleep. Like me, this phenomenon comes and goes, though in his case he indicated that it started about two years ago.
A Speculation: This, for me, was a decisive indication, for Mr. F.S., and my colleague with whom I originally shared the "narcolepsy" phenomenon, all work at home, and all of us spend a great deal of time at our computers. Then came...
Example two: A gentleman, Mr. A.F., who lives in Bangkok, Thailand, reported that he too has experienced symptoms of sudden onset fatigue, and these at "unusual times." Initially he wondered if it was simply a mild form of depression or a virus, but concluded it was not given the phenomenon's widespread distribution. And Mr. A.F., like my colleague, and Mr. F.S., also spends a great deal of time at his computer. He even voiced the conclusion I was beginning to come to myself... that the phenomenon was tied to the computer, to a technology.
Explanation Two: Thus we come to an offering by Mr. P.R., from Canada, who, while not apparently suffering from any "sudden onset fatigue or narcolepsy", indicated a number of links to various devices being sold on the internet that, by manipulating electromagnetic waves and entraining brain waves, can alter one's mood, concentration, and memory. True enough, such gadgets exist and we've probably all seen them, though I cannot comment on their effectiveness.
Example three: But then, Ms. P.H., a regular reader here, weighed in with her experience, and she indicated that she has experienced being suddenly overcome with "the need to fall asleep right now"(her emphasis) and reaching REM sleep extremely fast, and experiencing vivid dreams and nightmares that she is convinced are being induced. When they do not occur, she experiences insomnia. In addition, she indicated that DARPA (you remember them, the Diabolically Apocalyptic Research Projects Agency) has been investigating the components of our circadian rhythms... and she sent a link to technologies available to "law enfarcement" officials that is probably only the tip of the iceberg, the implication being that technologies exist to induce sleep:
Explanation Three: Then Mr. B.G. in Indonesia weighed in with his email, and recalled an episode from the Byte Show where Ms. George Ann Hughes speculated that, for whatever reason, she suspected there was more behind the governments' programs to vilify smoking and smokers than meets the eye, and that she thinks for whatever reason smoking inhibits whatever chemical or technological means of manipulation might be going on.
My Experiment: This gave me pause, for I had not been smoking inside my home for some time, and I decided to light up my pipe while I work, and see if perhaps this would have any effect. I can say that while the attacks have not ceased, they appear to have abated in quantity and intensity. Of course, this "experiment" is not scientific in any sense, but my impression nonetheless remains.
Explanation Four: So we come to the explanation that makes the most sense to me (with one very important caveat which we'll get to). Mr. A.F. from Bangkok speculated that such influence seems to be targeted in some cases, and the common thing that emerges from the above review is that all persons so effected spend large amounts of time on their computers. Thus, he speculated that one might be looking at some form of embedded malware of transient executable code that would cause an individual computer to emit a wave form to a frequency designed to entrain barinwaves, and induce sudden fatigue, sleep, mood alterations, or whatever.
This is not as far-fetched as it sounds, and readers familiar with former Lt. Col. Tom Bearden(US Army, Ret), will be aware that he long ago maintained that such capabilities existed, and that sudden onset of heart problems or coronary arrest could also be induced by this means.
All this in my own "high octane speculation opinion" could be true.. except for a couple of problems: I have experienced these attacks when I am away from my computer, and my colleague has experienced them while driving. Of course, cell phones could be so entrained, but I do not own one (and refuse to get one)...
...so perhaps we are looking at a larger phenomenon, one not limited to computers.
In any case folks, that's my update on the "narcoplepsy story", and I'd like to thank all of you who took the time to share your experiences and to comment about this problem.
See you on the flip side...