Characteristics of Narcolepsy

Characteristics of Narcolepsy

  • Narcolepsy is characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness, including irresistible sleep attacks, overwhelming affected persons in the most inappropriate situations.
  • Many patients also experience short episodes of sudden muscle weakness known as cataplexies, which are triggered by strong emotions, mostly laughter.
  • About half of the patients report symptoms of paralysis (sleep paralysis) or dream-like perceptions (hypnagogic hallucinations) when falling asleep or waking up.
  • Some narcolepsy patients also describe a fragmented night sleep and nightmares.
  • Current studies indicate that only persons with a genetic predisposition (HLA-DQB1*06:02) exposed to an environmental trigger, such as infectious diseases or vaccinations, are at risk of developing narcolepsy.
  • Many primary care doctors are unfamiliar with the basic symptoms of narcolepsy. Individuals experience symptoms for an average of 3 to 5 years before receiving an accurate diagnosis and 10 to15 year delays are not uncommon.