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Washington Promotes Narcolepsy Awareness

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You've seen him play a brilliant, compassionate doctor on TV. Soon, you may see Isaiah Washington in a series of public service announcements aimed at raising Americans' awareness of a chronic neurological disorder.

Isaiah WashingtonThe Narcolepsy Network announced this week that Washington, who stars as Dr. Preston Burke on Grey's Anatomy, will be featured in three TV spots to increase understanding of the sleep disorder. Researchers estimate that narcolepsy, which is defined as the brain's inability to regulate sleep-wake cycles normally, affects approximately 200,000 men, women and children in the U.S. A vast majority of narcolepsy patients remain undiagnosed.

"Due to my role, I have been exposed to many difficult health disorders that people must deal with every day of their lives," Washington said. "A close friend of mine has narcolepsy, so I have seen how devastating it can be. While we all know what it's like to have a bad night's sleep, most of us can't imagine what life would be like if that happened every night. People living with narcolepsy need to know they are not alone and that they can get help."


The three public service announcements featuring Washington are being distributed as part of National Sleep Awareness Week, which takes place March 27-April 2. The annual awareness campaign coincides with the return to Daylight Savings Time on April 2, when clocks "spring forward" and everyone loses an hour of sleep. This time of year, more than any other, is when sleep will be on the minds of most Americans.

The Narcolepsy Network's campaign aims to be public, educational, and informative. In addition to the public service announcements featuring Washington, the Network has produced an educational brochure on the subject that will be distributed across across the country to physicians' offices. It will also be made available to the public via the website and toll-free number. The organization is thrilled to have Washington on board.

"We're very excited as an organization to have Isaiah Washington involved in this effort to educate the public," said Dr. Eveline Honig of the Narcolepsy Network. "For too long, narcolepsy has been a subject that has not received enough attention. It is critical for us to reach the public with signs and symptoms of narcolepsy so that those who are suffering from the condition can seek treatment. The good news is that there are newer and better treatments for narcolepsy. While there is no cure yet, symptoms can be controlled in most cases."

Steve Marsi is the Managing Editor of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Google+ or email him here.

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    Hi my name is Mecca. I have been diagnosed with narcolepsy since I was about 10-12 years old.Like I read before someone else said it came out of the blue, thats just what happened with me. I use to be a night owl(sleep all morning and stay up all night)but then eventually I just began sleeping all the time. It Truely is something so terribly hard to live with.

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    Hi I am a 33 year old female who was diagnosed with Narcolepsy and sever cataplexy, Just so you know this is the worst thing to have!!! I fall a sleep eating talking, riding in car, and then the best part of all the uncotrolled cateplexy every day all day. I have had meds changed every month for almost one year and nothing will control this. mine came on out of the blue no warrning at all.

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    'People living with narcolepsy need to know they are not alone and that they CAN GET HELP." Hi my name is Ramie and i have copied and pasted this sentence to point out that you say i can get help! I am a high school senior and i am about to begin college. I have a GPA of 3.9 and am a very hard worker w or without narcolepsy. I don't plan on letting narcolepsy hold me back in any way, shape, or form. I was wondering if you were offering any scholarships to back up what you say when you say i can get help. Thanks!

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    i was diagnosed with immune disorder fibro and i have narcolepsy with it and i was a busy active person. been a big difference but the modalert changed the symtoms.i cant tell people enough to get help for this since life can be better.glad you are talking about it..tg

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    I don't know too much about this disorder, but think it is really great when someone uses their celebrity for positive things. Preston Burke would be proud to know that his alter ego is supporting a medical research project.

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    My name is Tim and I'm 21. I was diagnosed with narcolepsy at the age of 9. I've been able to maintain above average grades in high school, and now college. This fall I plan to attend Columbia College of Chicago to major in music. Are there any foundations that offer grants or scholarships to individuals with my disorder?

    Thank you,
    Tim Perkins




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