“I always just thought my symptoms were weird quirks.” – Sean
What Are the Symptoms of Narcolepsy?
There’s more to narcolepsy than excessive daytime sleepiness.
All people living with narcolepsy have excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS), but they may not have the other 4 symptoms. People with cataplexy have type 1 narcolepsy; narcolepsy without cataplexy is often called type 2 narcolepsy.
Excessive Daytime Sleepiness
EDS is the inability to stay awake and alert during the day.
Cataplexy is the sudden and brief loss of muscle strength or tone, triggered by emotions or emotional situations.
Hypnagogic hallucinations are vivid, dream-like experiences that occur when falling asleep; hypnopompic hallucinations are similar but occur while waking up.
Sleep paralysis is the inability to move, speak, or open one’s eyes when falling asleep or waking up.
Disrupted Nighttime Sleep
Disrupted nighttime sleep causes people to wake up often at night.
Narcolepsy is so much more than just being tired. It affects every aspect of your life.
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 dream-like experiences that occur while 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 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.