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People with narcolepsy experience the irresistible need to sleep, regardless of how much sleep they get at night.

Young woman resting on her hand with eyes closed

Often times, they fall asleep at inappropriate times, like during conversation, while working or driving a car. These “attacks” of sleep may last from 30 seconds to 30 minutes. Some people with narcolepsy may have a symptom called cataplexy. This is a sudden decrease in muscle control, which is associated with periods of strong emotions, like laughter, surprise or anger.

Some of the most common symptoms of narcolepsy include:

  • Excessive sleepiness.
  • Vivid dreams when lying down to sleep or upon waking up.
  • Loss of muscle control with emotion.
  • Sleep paralysis, the inability to move upon waking from sleep.
  • Automatic behavior, performing routine tasks without being aware of performing the activity.

Sometimes narcolepsy runs in families, but many people with narcolepsy do not have family members who are affected.


There are medications that are helpful in treating narcolepsy. Short, strategic naps may also improve alertness. Education for family members about narcolepsy is also helpful.

If you would like more information, or you suspect you may suffer from narcolepsy, please consult your physician, or contact our Sleep Center at 920-459-4766