Tips for Patients are available for download at www.neurologyreviews.com.
This page is part of an ongoing series of practical tips for patients with neurologic disorders. If you have compiled clinically relevant
tips that you wish to share, please contact the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Narcolepsy, a chronic neurologic sleep disorder,
is characterized by excessive and overwhelming
daytime sleepiness. There is no cure for
narcolepsy, but some of the symptoms can
be managed with lifestyle changes and
medications. The following tips may help if you
for Living With
Think of safety first. Avoid activities that would be
dangerous if you had a sudden sleep attack. These activities may include driving, climbing ladders, or operating
Contact your medical professional. If you have narcolepsy, it is important to know when to seek medical attention.
Contact your doctor if you have symptoms of narcolepsy, your
narcolepsy does not respond to treatment, or you develop new
symptoms of narcolepsy.
Know your medication’s side effects. Some medications, including medications used for seizures, allergies,
depression, or anxiety, can increase or cause sleepiness.
If you are taking medications for conditions other than narcolepsy, talk with your doctor about whether they may r
Make a sleep schedule. Take scheduled naps during the
daytime for 10 to 15 minutes. Planning your naps can prevent
unplanned lapses into sleep. Try, also, to get a good night’s
sleep during the same hours every night.
Wear a medical alert necklace or bracelet. Wearing a
medical alert necklace or bracelet can be helpful because it will
alert others if you suddenly fall asleep or become unable to
move or speak.
Opt for smaller food portions. Some people with narcolepsy feel drowsy after eating a large meal, particularly one that
is rich in carbohydrates. If you feel sleepy after eating a big
meal, consider making your meals smaller.
Avoid certain substances. Substances such as caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol can interfere with your
sleep. If you drink coffee, avoid drinking it after 4 pm.
Be open to therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy may help
with your narcolepsy. It may help you control symptoms and
change behavior that may cause your condition to worsen.