Today is Idaho Narcolepsy Awareness Day

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Some may find humor in the fact that today is Narcolepsy Awareness Day in Idaho, but the Idaho woman who convinced Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter to recognize the importance of narcolepsy awareness knows that the disorder is no laughing matter.

Narcolepsy is a neurological disorder in which the body begins to destroy hypocretin cells that regulate the sleep/wake cycle.

"It wasn't until falling asleep at the wheel and going into a horse pasture that I talked to my doctor about this," said Pam Thomason, 64, of Lewiston. "It is a very debilitating disorder both physically and socially, but I have managed to deal with it for over 43 years."

Thomason said she has been trying to reach out to educators throughout the region because most young people develop the disorder between the ages of 15 and 25. Additionally, she said many doctors misdiagnose narcolepsy as sleep apnea because the two have extreme daytime sleepiness in common.

Thomason's effort to declare today Narcolepsy Awareness Day in Idaho is part of a 50-state initiative to spread the word on what she calls a debilitating disorder.