usually start during the teen or young-adult years. Very few patients are younger than age 5 or older than age 50 when symptoms first occur. If you have narcolepsy, symptoms occur even if you have gotten an appropriate amount of sleep. Some people notice that their symptoms grow worse as they age. Some women notice improvement of their symptoms after
If you have narcolepsy, you may notice any or all of the following symptoms: Overwhelming daytime sleepiness
Uncontrollable sleep attacks—These involuntary episodes tend to last between 3–30 minutes. They may occur periodically throughout every day, but may also be brought on by certain triggers, such as:
Warm environmentHeavy mealsBoring and/or sedentary occupations
Cataplexy—A sudden and complete loss of muscle tone and strength. Cataplexy is often brought on by:
Intense emotion, such as anger or laughterStressBeing tickledOrgasmEating a heavy mealSleep paralysis—A complete or partial inability to move or speak just as sleep or a sleep attack is beginning or endingHallucinations—Visual images that you see vividly, though they don’t really exist. They can be very disturbing. These hallucinations may occur as sleep begins or as it ends and you are waking.Memory problemsBlurry visionFrequent nighttime waking
Narcolepsy. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated March 6, 2013. Accessed June 3, 2013.
What is narcolepsy? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. National Institutes of Health
website. Available at:
Updated November 1, 2010. Accessed June 3, 2013.
Last reviewed May 2015 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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