Narcolepsy is a sleep and neurological disorder that disrupts the normal sleep/wake cycle and is characterized by quick entry into Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep from waking. In other words, people can rapidly fall asleep at times through the day and quickly start dreaming. This is often disorienting and can have significant impacts on daily life. Narcolepsy is fairly rare and affects about 0.5% of adults. What causes narcolepsy is not fully understood. However it appears that both genetic and environmental factors that are related to the immune system.
Symptoms of narcolepsy include:
During the day:
- Tiredness during the day
- Sleep attacks (rapid onset of sleep)
- Cataplexy – when strong emotion (e.g laughter, excitement) causes a sudden loss of muscle tone or limpness
- Sleep paralysis
- Disrupted nighttime sleep
- Difficulty staying asleep
Narcolepsy is typically slow to be diagnosed and people often suffer untreated for years. There are treatments for narcolepsy including both prescription medications and lifestyle modification.
The Somn Sleep Assessment contain some questions that are related to screening tools for narcolepsy. These questions and analysis are elements of the Body Sleep Factor. While we can’t diagnose narcolepsy, a good immediate next step is a online screening for narcolepsy. Narcolepsy screeners will ask you about your sleepiness during the day and the likelihood that you fall asleep in different situation. Next it will ask you questions from the Swiss Narcolepsy Scale. A narcolepsy screen can be found here and you can complete it in just a few minutes.
If you think you may have narcolepsy, talk to your healthcare provider. You can find more information at the Narcolepsy Network, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing early diagnosis of narcolepsy, advocating for and supporting persons with narcolepsy and their families, and promoting critical research for treatment and a cure.
Other resources to help with your sleep
Explore Your Sleep