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Narcolepsy

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

What is narcolepsy?

Narcolepsy 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.

What are the signs and symptoms of narcolepsy?

  • Restless sleep
  • Severe sleepiness during the day
  • Sudden loss of muscle strength (cataplexy)
  • Unable to move or speak when you fall asleep or first wake up
  • Hallucinations
  • 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.

How is narcolepsy diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms and examine you. Tell him about your sleep history and what triggers your sleep attacks.

  • Polysomnography is a sleep study that records your brain activity, oxygen level, and body movements while you sleep.
  • An EKG test records your heart rhythm and how fast your heart beats. It is used to check for heart damage.

How is narcolepsy treated?

Narcolepsy is a long-term condition. The goal of treatment is to decrease your symptoms and increase your quality of life. Medicines may help keep you awake during the day or help decrease your symptoms.

How can I manage my symptoms?

  • Keep a record of your sleep patterns for up to 2 weeks. Bring it to your follow-up visit. This will help your healthcare provider plan the best treatment for you.
  • 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.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • 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.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. 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.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

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.

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