Last updated: December 2021
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Narcolepsy is a rare, long term, neurological condition that causes a person to suddenly fall asleep at inappropriate times as the brain is unable to regulate the normal sleep-wake cycle.

According to Narcolepsy UK there are around 30,000 sufferers in the UK.

Symptoms of narcolepsy

Excessive daytime sleepiness – feeling very drowsy and tired throughout the day, having difficulty concentrating and being unable to stay awake.

Cataplexy – More than a third of those affected with narcolepsy experience temporary loss of muscle control resulting in weakness and possible collapse, often in response to strong emotions.

Sleep attacks – falling asleep suddenly and without warning.

Sleep paralysis– this is a temporary inability to move or speak and occurs when falling asleep or awakening.

Excessive dreaming and waking in the night – dreams often come as you fall asleep (hypnogogic hallucinations) or just before or during waking (hypnopompic hallucinations).

Narcolepsy doesn’t cause serious or long-term physical health problems, but it can have a significant impact on daily life (work, relationships etc) and be difficult to cope with emotionally.

There is no cure but medication and behavioural treatments are available to help improve symptoms. Lifestyle changes including taking regular naps and improving sleep hygiene may help.