“I'll never be that person I once was, but I have quality of life.” – Scott

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Managing Life With Narcolepsy

Day-to-day life with narcolepsy symptoms can be a challenge, but managing the disorder is possible.

Getting to know narcolepsy is more than knowing the symptoms—knowing narcolepsy is about understanding its impact and finding ways to live well with the disorder. In addition to some lifestyle changes, listening to other people living with narcolepsy share their stories or joining support groups can make a difference.

Finding ways to manage life with narcolepsy can be an adjustment, but there are some everyday changes that can be made to help with symptoms.

  • Maintain a regular sleep schedule
  • Schedule daytime naps to avoid unplanned napping that could interfere with nighttime sleep
  • Avoid caffeine in the evening, including soda, coffee, or tea
  • Avoid alcohol, as it can cause sleep to be disrupted
  • Avoid smoking
  • Eat a healthy dinner several hours before bedtime, and avoid late-night snacks
  • Keep the bedroom quiet and comfortable
  • Limit use of electronic devices before bedtime
  • Exercise regularly
There's More to Know

Stories about living with narcolepsy are personal.

Listen to them now »

Support is available to help people living with narcolepsy manage their symptoms.

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What is narcolepsy really like?

Never in a million years could I have imagined my life going so far off the intended course.

Scott, 48 years old, living with narcolepsy with cataplexy

Performance of routine tasks without awareness or memory.

Difficulty focusing or concentrating.

Brief loss of muscle tone with retained awareness, often triggered by strong emotions.

Frequent shifts between different states of sleep and wakefulness at night.

The inability to stay awake and alert during the day; a constant need for sleep or unintentionally falling asleep.

A chemical in the brain that helps maintain wakefulness.

Vivid, realistic, and frightening dream-like events that occur when falling asleep.

Dream-like events that occur when falling asleep. Called hypnopompic hallucinations if they occur when waking up.

A chemical in the brain that helps maintain wakefulness and prevent non-REM sleep and REM sleep from occurring at the wrong time.

Unintentionally falling asleep due to excessive daytime sleepiness; “sleep attacks.”

Restorative sleep state with decreased muscle tone.

Occurs at night and includes vivid dreams; muscles are not active to prevent people from acting out dreams.

Daytime and evening habits to improve sleep.

Brief total loss of voluntary muscle control when falling asleep or while waking up.

People with type 1 narcolepsy can be diagnosed by their cataplexy or low levels of hypocretin.

The cause of type 2 narcolepsy is unknown.