Dr. Ayush PandeyMBBS,PG Diploma

December 05, 2018

December 27, 2022


What is narcolepsy?

A disorder that affects the ability of your brain to control the sleep-wake cycle is called narcolepsy. An individual may feel rested after waking up but later feel sleepy throughout the day. This disorder affects one in 2,000 individuals and is known to affect both men and women equally. It interferes with the daily chores, and the individual may fall asleep in the middle of any activity like driving, eating, talking, etc.

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What are its main signs and symptoms?

Narcolepsy is a lifelong condition that does not progress with age and symptoms may improve with time. The most commonly observed symptoms are:

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Sudden loss of muscle control (cataplexy)
  • Hallucinations
  • Temporary loss of the ability to move or speak while falling asleep (sleep paralysis)

The other less commonly observed symptoms are:

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What are its main causes?

Although the exact cause of narcolepsy remains unknown, multiple factors are thought to be responsible for the occurrence of narcolepsy. Almost all individuals that have narcolepsy with cataplexy have a very low level of a chemical called hypocretin in their body, which induces wakefulness. Individuals with narcolepsy without cataplexy have normal levels of hypocretin.

Apart from low hypocretin levels, other factors that can cause narcolepsy are:

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How is it diagnosed and treated?

After the clinical examination and taking the medical history of the individual, the doctor may recommend the two specific diagnostic measures to confirm the diagnosis:

  • Polysomnogram: It gives an overview of breathing, eye movements, and the activity of the brain and muscles overnight.
  • Multiple sleep latency test: This test is used to determine how often an individual falls asleep during the day and in the middle of performing some task.

Even though there is no cure for narcolepsy, lifestyle changes and medicines can help control the symptoms and manage the condition. Medications generally prescribed by the doctors are antidepressants, amphetamine-like stimulants, etc.

The following lifestyle changes can help in the battle against narcolepsy:

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  1. National Sleep Foundation Narcolepsy. Washington, D.C., United States [Internet].
  2. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke [internet]. US Department of Health and Human Services; Narcolepsy Fact Sheet.
  3. National Health Service [Internet]. UK; Narcolepsy.
  4. National Health Service [Internet]. UK; Symptoms.
  5. National Health Service [Internet]. UK; Treatment.

Medicines for Narcolepsy

Medicines listed below are available for Narcolepsy. Please note that you should not take any medicines without doctor consultation. Taking any medicine without doctor's consultation can cause serious problems.