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What happens when your child’s sleep cycle goes out of sync?

WTOP's Stephanie Gaines-Bryant looks at how narcolepsy affects a local teen

June 6, 2016 12:37 am

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WASHINGTON — Teenagers sometimes do not have the healthiest sleep patterns, but if it becomes suddenly erratic, it should be a cause for concern. That’s what single father Adam Forschner thought when his son Nathaniel went through troubling changes.

“Between his eighth and ninth grade year, he was gaining tons of weight, couldn’t do anything and was sleeping 20 out of 24 hours a day,” Forschner said.

After months of going from doctor to doctor, Nathaniel was diagnosed with narcolepsy. An estimated 200,000 Americans suffer from the brain disorder that affects sleep-wake cycles, although fewer than 50,000 are diagnosed and treated, according to the Narcolepsy Network.

“He would have sleep paralysis, so he would be paralyzed calling my name to pick him up cause he couldn’t move,” Forschner recalled. “He would have hallucinations in the evening that people were killing him. I would have to jump out of bed and see if he was OK.”

Narcolepsy currently does not have a cure, but medication, determination and family support helped Nathaniel. He joined the Parkdale High School wrestling team where his father coaches.

“He said ‘I’m not going to let it beat me’,” his father said about Nathaniel’s determination. “He went to the weight room all summer long … running, watching what he ate, changing his diet. Now he’s 195 pounds with 8 percent body fat.”

And now Nathaniel’s the man to beat. He is a starter on his wrestling team at his school and finished this past season 27 and 4.

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