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is a sleep disorder that causes severe sleepiness and frequent sudden daytime attacks of sleep. Narcolepsy can cause you to fall asleep at any time but can keep you from sleeping well at night. You do not get enough sleep in a 24-hour period. The cause of narcolepsy is not known.

Common symptoms include the following:

  • Restless sleep: You toss and turn in bed, have leg jerks or nightmares, and wake up often.
  • Severe sleepiness during the day: Sleep attacks may happen up to 10 times each day. These sleep attacks usually happen after meals, but may even happen while you are talking or working.
  • Sudden loss of muscle strength: This is called cataplexy. Your muscles feel weak, or you have slurred speech. This is usually triggered by sudden strong emotions, such as joy or laughter. It can also be triggered by surprise, fear, or anger.
  • Sleep paralysis: You are unable to move or speak when you fall asleep or first wake up.
  • Hallucinations: You see or hear things that are not real when a sleep attack starts or when you wake up.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You symptoms interfere with your daily activities.
  • You are not able to sleep well at night, even with treatment.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


  • Medicines may help keep you awake during the day or help decrease your symptoms.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him of her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Manage your symptoms:

  • Take naps. This can help control your narcolepsy. Take 20 minute naps at the same time every day. One long nap in the afternoon may also help.
  • Keep a sleep schedule. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day.
  • Do not drink alcohol, caffeine, or use tobacco. These can interfere with your sleep and make your symptoms worse.
  • Exercise regularly at least 4 hours before you go to bed. Exercise helps you stay awake during the day and sleep better at night. Ask about the best exercise plan for you.

Wear medical alert identification:

Wear medical alert jewelry or carry a card that says you have narcolepsy. Ask your healthcare provider where to get these items.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

You may need to see a sleep specialist. You may need to come in up to 4 times each month for treatment. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Narcolepsy (Ambulatory Care)

Associated drugs

IBM Watson Micromedex

Symptoms and treatments

Mayo Clinic Reference