Narcolepsy is a disabling sleep disorder that mixes the nervous
system's messages about when to sleep and when to be awake. Narcolepsy usually
starts during the teen years or early adulthood and continues throughout
Narcolepsy may cause:
Sudden sleep attacks. These may occur at any
time during any type of activity, such as eating dinner, driving the car, or
carrying on a conversation. These sleep attacks can occur several times a day
and may last from a few minutes to several hours.
periods of muscle weakness while a person is awake (cataplexy). The weakness
may affect specific muscle groups or may affect the entire body. These periods
of muscle weakness are often brought on by strong emotional reactions, such as
laughing or crying.
Hallucinations just before a sleep
Brief loss of the ability to move when a person is falling
asleep or just waking up (sleep paralysis).
Medicines may help prevent sleep attacks and episodes of muscle
weakness. But narcolepsy rarely goes away completely.
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Mark A. Rasmus, MD - Pulmonology, Critical Care Medicine, Sleep Medicine