Consult your doctor for more information regarding the treatment of RLS, and contact us to discuss options at INTEGRIS Sleep Disorders Center of Oklahoma: 405-636-7700 or Toll-Free 888-53-SLEEP

Narcolepsy is a chronic, neurological sleep disorder with no known cause. The doctors and sleep technicians at Sleep Centers of Oklahoma are among the leading specialists in the field and contribute to our patients’ health on a daily basis through medical intervention, exceptional care and treatment, and ongoing research.

People with narcolepsy experience a number of symptoms, including periods of extreme sleepiness and sudden sleep attacks that can strike unexpectedly. These bouts of sleepiness can occur repeatedly during one day and generally last anywhere from seconds to minutes at a time. Drowsiness may persist throughout the day, and nighttime sleep may be disturbed by repeatedly waking up.

Narcolepsy affects both men and women equally. Symptoms often manifest in childhood or adolescence, but can occur later in life. It’s a life-long condition. 

Narcolepsy is not rare, but it is an underdiagnosed condition because symptoms can be associated with other medial problems. The diagnostic services and sleep studies at INTEGRIS are equipped to identify the disorder.



The Mystery of Narcolepsy

Dr. Jonathan Schwartz, medical director of the INTEGRIS Sleep Center, describes the misconceptions surrounding narcolepsy and the different symptoms that may be associated with the disorder.


Symptoms of narcolepsy

The sudden need for sleep is perhaps the most prominent symptom of narcolepsy, but there are a number of other symptoms associated with narcolepsy.



Learn more about narcolepsy symptoms from INTEGRIS narcolepsy patient Katie Cook in this video.


Common symptoms may include:

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS): You may feel the overwhelming need to sleep at inappropriate times.
  • Cataplexy: You may experience the sudden loss of muscle control ranging from minor weakness to total collapse.
  • Sleep paralysis: You may be unable to move or speak for about one minute when falling asleep or waking up.
  • Hypnagogic hallucinations.  You may experience vivid and often frightening dreams and notice unexplainable sounds before falling asleep.

Other symptoms associated with narcolepsy may include:

  • Disrupted nighttime sleep
  • Automatic behavior: Performing tasks without conscious awareness, and often not being able to remember.

Other difficulties may result from patients’ struggle to cope with the challenges that come with narcolepsy and may lead to:

  • Feelings of intense fatigue and continual lack of energy
  • Depression
  • Difficulty in concentrating and memorizing
  • Vision problems
  • Eating binges and difficulties with alcohol consumption
  • Weak limbs

All individuals may experience symptoms differently.

How is narcolepsy diagnosed?

A clinical examination and exhaustive medical history are vital for diagnosis and treatment of narcolepsy. Specialized tests, all of which can be performed in one of our Sleep Disorders Centers of Oklahoma, usually lead to a preliminary diagnosis after physical exams have ruled out other conditions.

Tests for narcolepsy include:

  • Overnight polysomnogram (PSG) is a sleep test to monitor various parameters during an entire night of sleep. 
  • Multiple Sleep Latency Test (MSLT) measures sleep onset and how quickly rapid eye movement (REM) sleep occurs.
  • Genetic blood test will help check for a genetic mutation often found in people who have a predisposition to narcolepsy.

How is narcolepsy treated?

Narcolepsy is a chronic condition without a cure. Medication, medical intervention and behavior changes can help patients manage the symptoms.

Your INTEGRIS sleep expert may recommend:

  • Medication: Excessive daytime sleepiness and cataplexy are treated separately, with central nervous system stimulants usually prescribed for EDS and antidepressants for cataplexy.
  • Nap therapy: Short naps during the day may help control sleepiness.
  • Dietary changes
  • Exercising regularly
  • Behavioral therapy

The goal is for the patient to remain as alert as possible and to minimize any recurring episodes of cataplexy, while using a minimal amount of medication. Sharing your narcolepsy diagnosis with others can be helpful. Support from family and employers helps patients cope with the symptoms and side effects of this sleep disorder.

At INTEGRIS Sleep Disorders Center of Oklahoma, our sleep experts will design a personalized treatment plan based on:

  • Your age, overall health and medical history
  • Severity of the sleep disorder
  • Your tolerance for specific medications, therapies or medical procedures
  • Expectations for the course of the disease
  • Your personal preferences

© 2017 INTEGRIS Health Pencil
Oklahoma's largest hospital network
3300 N.W. Expressway
Oklahoma City, OK 73112 Phone: (405) 951-2277
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