Also Known As:

Sleep attacks, Excessive Daytime Sleepiness (EDS)

What is Narcolepsy?

Narcolepsy is a neurological sleep disorder that affects the brain’s ability to regulate sleep-wake cycles. It is characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) and a tendency to fall asleep suddenly at inappropriate times.


The exact cause of narcolepsy is unknown, but it is believed to be related to the deficiency of a chemical called hypocretin, which regulates wakefulness. Some possible causes and risk factors include:
• Genetics
• Autoimmune disorders
• Brain injuries or tumors
• Infections


Symptoms of narcolepsy include:
• Excessive daytime sleepiness
• Sleep attacks (falling asleep suddenly and uncontrollably)
• Cataplexy (loss of muscle control triggered by emotions)
• Sleep paralysis (temporary inability to move or speak upon waking up)
• Hypnagogic hallucinations (vivid, dream-like experiences while falling asleep or waking up)

Diagnosis & Treatment

Diagnosis of narcolepsy involves a physical exam, sleep study (polysomnography), and multiple sleep latency test (MSLT).

Treatment options include:
• Stimulant medications to reduce daytime sleepiness
• Antidepressants or sodium oxybate to manage cataplexy and other symptoms
• Lifestyle changes such as regular sleep schedule, short naps, and avoiding alcohol and caffeine

Additional Information

Narcolepsy can be accompanied by other sleep disorders such as sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome. It often goes undiagnosed or misdiagnosed as other conditions such as depression or epilepsy. Narcolepsy is a chronic condition that requires lifelong management.

If you suspect you have narcolepsy, see a doctor to get a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. Early diagnosis and management can help improve symptoms and quality of life.

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Published Date:

14th April 2023


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