6 Symptoms of Narcolepsy

Narcolepsy is a chronic neurological disorder that affects the brain’s ability to control sleep-wake cycles. People with narcolepsy experience excessive and overwhelming daytime sleepiness even after adequate nighttime sleep. A narcolepsy sufferer is likely to become drowsy or fall asleep, often at inappropriate times and places. Additionally, nighttime sleep may be fragmented with frequent awakenings. Other symptoms typically associated with narcolepsy are cataplexy, hypnagogic hallucinations, sleep paralysis, and automatic behavior. Narcolepsy usually begins when a person is in their teens or early twenties, and there is strong evidence that narcolepsy may run in families. 

Symptoms of Narcolepsy

  • Excessive Daytime Sleepiness

People who suffer from narcolepsy often experience overwhelming daytime drowsiness even after a “good night’s sleep.”

  • Sleep Paralysis 

The temporary inability to speak or move as a person falls asleep or wakes up from sleep. 

  • Hallucinations

Frightening or vivid images accompanying sleep paralysis, usually occurring as a person falls asleep or wakes up. 

  • Insomnia

While a person suffering from narcolepsy may experience excessive daytime sleepiness, they may also have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep at night. 

  • Automatic Behaviors

These are brief episodes of sleep, lasting no more than a few seconds, during habitual activities like driving or eating. The person usually doesn’t recall what happened and their performance is impaired during the episode. 

  • Cataplexy 

The sudden collapse of a person when they are awake, triggered by strong emotions such as fear or laughter. Some people only experience this overwhelming weakness once or twice in their lifetime, where others experience it frequently. 

Diagnosis and Treatment

Although there is no total cure for narcolepsy, some of the symptoms can be treated with medication and behavioral treatments. Some of the common medications used to treat narcolepsy are Modafinil, amphetamine-like stimulants, antidepressants, and Sodium oxybate. Common lifestyle changes that are recommended include maintaining a regular sleep and exercise schedule, avoiding excessive caffeine and smoking, and including relaxing activities such as yoga into your daily routine. 

Take Back Your Night with Whitney Sleep 

At Whitney Sleep Center we understand the unique needs of our patients with sleep disorders. Our family-run business is dedicated to prioritizing your concerns, answering your questions, and assisting you in improving your sleep — and overall health — through our treatments. We specialize in treating disorders such as narcolepsy. Seeking treatment for a sleep disorder can decrease your risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, motor vehicle accidents, and others.

If you or a loved one is experiencing signs or symptoms, we encourage you to set up an appointment at one of our Minnesota locations. Take back your night: contact us today at masonw@whitneysleepcenter.com, or visit our website here.