What is narcolepsy?
Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder. It is a lifelong disease of the central nervous
Narcolepsy causes excessive and overwhelming daytime sleepiness, even after getting
plenty of nighttime sleep. If you have narcolepsy, you are likely to become drowsy or to
fall asleep at inappropriate times and places. These sleep attacks may happen with or
may have repeated attacks in a single day. The drowsiness may last a long time.
Nighttime sleep may be split up, and you may wake up often.
What causes narcolepsy?
The cause of narcolepsy is not known. It involves the body’s central nervous system, which includes the brain and spinal cord. Narcolepsy is a genetic disorder. It is caused by a low amount of a brain chemical that helps neurons talk to each other.
What are the symptoms of
These are the most common symptoms of narcolepsy. But symptoms may differ a bit in each
person. Symptoms may include:
daytime sleepiness (EDS). An overwhelming desire to sleep at inappropriate
Cataplexy. A sudden loss of muscle control ranging from slight weakness to
total collapse. This most often occurs during times of strong emotion.
paralysis. Being unable to talk or move for about 1 minute when falling
asleep or waking up.
hallucinations. Vivid and often scary dreams and sounds reported when falling
- Disrupted sleep.
- Automatic behavior. Doing routine tasks without conscious awareness of doing so, and
often without memory of it.
may have other problems as you cope with this condition. These include:
- Feelings of intense fatigue and continual lack of energy
concentrating and memorizing
How is narcolepsy
Your healthcare provider will ask about your health history and do a physical exam. Lab
tests to confirm diagnosis and plan treatment may include:
polysomnogram (PSG). A sleep specialist will monitor you during an entire
night of sleep.
sleep latency test (MSLT). This test, done during the day, after a full
night’s sleep, measures when you fall asleep and how quickly rapid eye movement (REM)