Narcolepsy is a disorder of unknown etiology characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness often associated with cataplexy in 60% of patients (sudden muscle weakness/paralysis provoked by strong emotion). Narcolepsy is a frequently overlooked disorder with patients suffering for an average of 15 years before the diagnosis is made.
Frequent Signs and Symptoms
Excessive daytime sleepiness
Uncontrolled sleep attacks up to ten times per day
Hallucinations when first going to sleep (hynagogic)
Diagnosis is made with an overnight sleep study (nighttime polysomnography PSG) followed the next day by a eight hour wakefullness test called a multiple sleep latentcy test (MSLT). Sleep onset REM periods are diagnostic of narcolepsy.
Treatment consists of alerting agents like Provigil or Nuvigil.