Narcolepsy Information Page

Narcolepsy Information Page


What research is being done?

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) supports investigations into the basic biology of sleep, including the brain mechanisms involved in generating and regulating sleep. Within the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, also a component of the NIH, the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research (NCSDR) coordinates Federal government sleep research activities and shares information with private and nonprofit groups.

NINDS-sponsored researchers are investigatng the basic bology of sleep and and conducting studies to further identify genetic and environmental factors that may cause narcolepsy.  Other researchers hope to better understand the genetic and biochemical bases of narcloepsy, which will eventually lead to new therapies to control symptoms and may lead to a cure.  Abnormalities in the immune system may plan an important role in the development of narcolepsy; NINDS researchers are working to understand why the immune system destroys hypocretin neurons in narcolepsy.

Information from the National Library of Medicine’s MedlinePlus
Sleep Disorders

×
What research is being done?

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) supports investigations into the basic biology of sleep, including the brain mechanisms involved in generating and regulating sleep. Within the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, also a component of the NIH, the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research (NCSDR) coordinates Federal government sleep research activities and shares information with private and nonprofit groups.

NINDS-sponsored researchers are investigatng the basic bology of sleep and and conducting studies to further identify genetic and environmental factors that may cause narcolepsy.  Other researchers hope to better understand the genetic and biochemical bases of narcloepsy, which will eventually lead to new therapies to control symptoms and may lead to a cure.  Abnormalities in the immune system may plan an important role in the development of narcolepsy; NINDS researchers are working to understand why the immune system destroys hypocretin neurons in narcolepsy.

Information from the National Library of Medicine’s MedlinePlus
Sleep Disorders

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) supports investigations into the basic biology of sleep, including the brain mechanisms involved in generating and regulating sleep. Within the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, also a component of the NIH, the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research (NCSDR) coordinates Federal government sleep research activities and shares information with private and nonprofit groups.

NINDS-sponsored researchers are investigatng the basic bology of sleep and and conducting studies to further identify genetic and environmental factors that may cause narcolepsy.  Other researchers hope to better understand the genetic and biochemical bases of narcloepsy, which will eventually lead to new therapies to control symptoms and may lead to a cure.  Abnormalities in the immune system may plan an important role in the development of narcolepsy; NINDS researchers are working to understand why the immune system destroys hypocretin neurons in narcolepsy.

Information from the National Library of Medicine’s MedlinePlus
Sleep Disorders

Search Disorders

Definition
Definition
Treatment
Treatment
Prognosis
Prognosis
Clinical Trials
Clinical Trials
Organizations
Organizations
Publications
Publications
Definition
Definition

Narcolepsy is a chronic neurological disorder caused by the brain's inability to regulate sleep-wake cycles. Many people with narcolepsy also experience uneven and interrupted sleeep that can involve waking up frequently during the night.  At various times throughout the day, people with narcolepsy experience irresistable bouts of sleep. If the urge becomes overwhelming, individuals will fall asleep for periods lasting from a few seconds to several minutes. In rare cases, some people may remain asleep for an hour or longer.  In addition to excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS), people with narcolepsy experience some or all of the typical symptoms ofcataplexy (the sudden loss of voluntary muscle tone), vivid hallucinations during sleep onset or upon awakening, and brief episodes of total paralysis at the beginning or end of sleep called sleep paralysis).  Because narcolepsy is often misdiagnosed as other conditions, it may take years to get the proper diagnosis . The cause of narcolepsy remains unknown.  It is likely that narcolepsy involves multiple factors interacting to cause neurological dysfunction and sleep disturbances.

×
Definition

Narcolepsy is a chronic neurological disorder caused by the brain's inability to regulate sleep-wake cycles. Many people with narcolepsy also experience uneven and interrupted sleeep that can involve waking up frequently during the night.  At various times throughout the day, people with narcolepsy experience irresistable bouts of sleep. If the urge becomes overwhelming, individuals will fall asleep for periods lasting from a few seconds to several minutes. In rare cases, some people may remain asleep for an hour or longer.  In addition to excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS), people with narcolepsy experience some or all of the typical symptoms ofcataplexy (the sudden loss of voluntary muscle tone), vivid hallucinations during sleep onset or upon awakening, and brief episodes of total paralysis at the beginning or end of sleep called sleep paralysis).  Because narcolepsy is often misdiagnosed as other conditions, it may take years to get the proper diagnosis . The cause of narcolepsy remains unknown.  It is likely that narcolepsy involves multiple factors interacting to cause neurological dysfunction and sleep disturbances.

Treatment
Treatment

There is no cure for narcolepsy.  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the drug modafinil (a central nervous system stimulant) to treat EDS.  In cases where modafinil is not effective, doctors may prescribe amphetamine-like stimulants such as methylphenidate to alleviate excesive daytime sleepiness. Two classes of antidepressant drugs have proved effective in controlling cataplexy in many individuals: tricyclics (including imipramine, desipramine, clomipramine, and protriptyline) and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (including venlafaxine, fluoxetine, and sertraline).  The FDA also has approved sodium oxybate (also known as gamma hydroxyburate or GHB) to treat cataplexy and EDS in indiiduals with narcolepsy.  Drug therapy should be accompany various behavioral strategies.  For example, many people with narcolepsy take short, regularly scheduled naps at times when they tend to feel sleepiest.  Improving the quality of nighttime sleep can combat EDS and help relieve persistent feelings of fatigue. Among the most important common-sense measures people with narcolepsy can take to enhance sleep quality are actions such as maintaining a regular sleep schedule, relaxing before bed, and avoiding large meals, alcohol, and caffeine-containing beverages before bedtime.  

×
Treatment

There is no cure for narcolepsy.  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the drug modafinil (a central nervous system stimulant) to treat EDS.  In cases where modafinil is not effective, doctors may prescribe amphetamine-like stimulants such as methylphenidate to alleviate excesive daytime sleepiness. Two classes of antidepressant drugs have proved effective in controlling cataplexy in many individuals: tricyclics (including imipramine, desipramine, clomipramine, and protriptyline) and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (including venlafaxine, fluoxetine, and sertraline).  The FDA also has approved sodium oxybate (also known as gamma hydroxyburate or GHB) to treat cataplexy and EDS in indiiduals with narcolepsy.  Drug therapy should be accompany various behavioral strategies.  For example, many people with narcolepsy take short, regularly scheduled naps at times when they tend to feel sleepiest.  Improving the quality of nighttime sleep can combat EDS and help relieve persistent feelings of fatigue. Among the most important common-sense measures people with narcolepsy can take to enhance sleep quality are actions such as maintaining a regular sleep schedule, relaxing before bed, and avoiding large meals, alcohol, and caffeine-containing beverages before bedtime.  

Definition
Definition

Narcolepsy is a chronic neurological disorder caused by the brain's inability to regulate sleep-wake cycles. Many people with narcolepsy also experience uneven and interrupted sleeep that can involve waking up frequently during the night.  At various times throughout the day, people with narcolepsy experience irresistable bouts of sleep. If the urge becomes overwhelming, individuals will fall asleep for periods lasting from a few seconds to several minutes. In rare cases, some people may remain asleep for an hour or longer.  In addition to excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS), people with narcolepsy experience some or all of the typical symptoms ofcataplexy (the sudden loss of voluntary muscle tone), vivid hallucinations during sleep onset or upon awakening, and brief episodes of total paralysis at the beginning or end of sleep called sleep paralysis).  Because narcolepsy is often misdiagnosed as other conditions, it may take years to get the proper diagnosis . The cause of narcolepsy remains unknown.  It is likely that narcolepsy involves multiple factors interacting to cause neurological dysfunction and sleep disturbances.

Treatment
Treatment

There is no cure for narcolepsy.  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the drug modafinil (a central nervous system stimulant) to treat EDS.  In cases where modafinil is not effective, doctors may prescribe amphetamine-like stimulants such as methylphenidate to alleviate excesive daytime sleepiness. Two classes of antidepressant drugs have proved effective in controlling cataplexy in many individuals: tricyclics (including imipramine, desipramine, clomipramine, and protriptyline) and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (including venlafaxine, fluoxetine, and sertraline).  The FDA also has approved sodium oxybate (also known as gamma hydroxyburate or GHB) to treat cataplexy and EDS in indiiduals with narcolepsy.  Drug therapy should be accompany various behavioral strategies.  For example, many people with narcolepsy take short, regularly scheduled naps at times when they tend to feel sleepiest.  Improving the quality of nighttime sleep can combat EDS and help relieve persistent feelings of fatigue. Among the most important common-sense measures people with narcolepsy can take to enhance sleep quality are actions such as maintaining a regular sleep schedule, relaxing before bed, and avoiding large meals, alcohol, and caffeine-containing beverages before bedtime.  

Prognosis
Prognosis

None of the currently available medications enables people with narcolepsy to consistently maintain a fully normal state of alertness.  But EDS and cataplexy, the most disabling symptoms of the disorder, can be controlled in most patients with drug treatment. Often the treatment regimen is modified as symptoms change. Whatever the age of onset, patients find that the symptoms tend to get worse over the two to three decades after the first symptoms appear. Many older patients find that some daytime symptoms decrease in severity after age 60.

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None of the currently available medications enables people with narcolepsy to consistently maintain a fully normal state of alertness.  But EDS and cataplexy, the most disabling symptoms of the disorder, can be controlled in most patients with drug treatment. Often the treatment regimen is modified as symptoms change. Whatever the age of onset, patients find that the symptoms tend to get worse over the two to three decades after the first symptoms appear. Many older patients find that some daytime symptoms decrease in severity after age 60.

Prognosis
Prognosis

None of the currently available medications enables people with narcolepsy to consistently maintain a fully normal state of alertness.  But EDS and cataplexy, the most disabling symptoms of the disorder, can be controlled in most patients with drug treatment. Often the treatment regimen is modified as symptoms change. Whatever the age of onset, patients find that the symptoms tend to get worse over the two to three decades after the first symptoms appear. Many older patients find that some daytime symptoms decrease in severity after age 60.

Definition

Narcolepsy is a chronic neurological disorder caused by the brain's inability to regulate sleep-wake cycles. Many people with narcolepsy also experience uneven and interrupted sleeep that can involve waking up frequently during the night.  At various times throughout the day, people with narcolepsy experience irresistable bouts of sleep. If the urge becomes overwhelming, individuals will fall asleep for periods lasting from a few seconds to several minutes. In rare cases, some people may remain asleep for an hour or longer.  In addition to excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS), people with narcolepsy experience some or all of the typical symptoms ofcataplexy (the sudden loss of voluntary muscle tone), vivid hallucinations during sleep onset or upon awakening, and brief episodes of total paralysis at the beginning or end of sleep called sleep paralysis).  Because narcolepsy is often misdiagnosed as other conditions, it may take years to get the proper diagnosis . The cause of narcolepsy remains unknown.  It is likely that narcolepsy involves multiple factors interacting to cause neurological dysfunction and sleep disturbances.

Treatment

There is no cure for narcolepsy.  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the drug modafinil (a central nervous system stimulant) to treat EDS.  In cases where modafinil is not effective, doctors may prescribe amphetamine-like stimulants such as methylphenidate to alleviate excesive daytime sleepiness. Two classes of antidepressant drugs have proved effective in controlling cataplexy in many individuals: tricyclics (including imipramine, desipramine, clomipramine, and protriptyline) and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (including venlafaxine, fluoxetine, and sertraline).  The FDA also has approved sodium oxybate (also known as gamma hydroxyburate or GHB) to treat cataplexy and EDS in indiiduals with narcolepsy.  Drug therapy should be accompany various behavioral strategies.  For example, many people with narcolepsy take short, regularly scheduled naps at times when they tend to feel sleepiest.  Improving the quality of nighttime sleep can combat EDS and help relieve persistent feelings of fatigue. Among the most important common-sense measures people with narcolepsy can take to enhance sleep quality are actions such as maintaining a regular sleep schedule, relaxing before bed, and avoiding large meals, alcohol, and caffeine-containing beverages before bedtime.  

Prognosis

None of the currently available medications enables people with narcolepsy to consistently maintain a fully normal state of alertness.  But EDS and cataplexy, the most disabling symptoms of the disorder, can be controlled in most patients with drug treatment. Often the treatment regimen is modified as symptoms change. Whatever the age of onset, patients find that the symptoms tend to get worse over the two to three decades after the first symptoms appear. Many older patients find that some daytime symptoms decrease in severity after age 60.

What research is being done?

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) supports investigations into the basic biology of sleep, including the brain mechanisms involved in generating and regulating sleep. Within the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, also a component of the NIH, the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research (NCSDR) coordinates Federal government sleep research activities and shares information with private and nonprofit groups.

NINDS-sponsored researchers are investigatng the basic bology of sleep and and conducting studies to further identify genetic and environmental factors that may cause narcolepsy.  Other researchers hope to better understand the genetic and biochemical bases of narcloepsy, which will eventually lead to new therapies to control symptoms and may lead to a cure.  Abnormalities in the immune system may plan an important role in the development of narcolepsy; NINDS researchers are working to understand why the immune system destroys hypocretin neurons in narcolepsy.

Information from the National Library of Medicine’s MedlinePlus
Sleep Disorders

Patient Organizations
Narcolepsy Network, Inc.
46 Union Drive, #A212
North Kingstown
RI
North Kingstown, RI 02852
Tel: 888-292-6522; 401-667-2523
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
National Institutes of Health, DHHS
31 Center Drive, Rm. 4A21 MSC 2480
Bethesda
MD
Bethesda, MD 20892-2480
Tel: 301-592-8573; 240-629-3255 (TTY); Recorded Info: 800-575-WELL (9355)
National Sleep Foundation
1010 N. Glebe Road
Suite 310
Arlington
VA
Arlington, VA 22201
Tel: 703-243-1697
Wake Up Narcolepsy
P.O. Box 60293
Worcester
MA
Worcester, MA 01606
Tel: 774-364-4965
Publications

An information booklet on Narcolepsy compiled by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).

Patient Organizations