The role of the school nurse

  1. School nurses are pivotal to a successful school program designed to identify students with uncontrollable sleepiness and ensure they are properly evaluated.
  2. School nurses are needed to educate teachers, psychologists, special education personnel and other school administrators about narcolepsy and its effect on a student’s ability to learn. Individualized accommodations can be made.
  3. School nurses are also best equipped to educate parents about narcolepsy and provide the information they need to seek prompt medical evaluation for their children.
  4. In the classroom, a student with narcolepsy may consistently:

Fall asleep periodically for seconds, minutes or longer

Stay awake but be visibly sleepy or drowsy

Be slow to respond when called upon

Attempt to counteract sleepiness with activity such as fidgeting


Have difficulty concentrating, especially during lengthy tests and non-interactive lessons

Have loss of muscle-tone (cataplexy) while laughing or experiencing strong emotion

Have difficulty with attention span and memory

A student exhibiting the symptoms of narcolepsy should be evaluated by a neurologist or a certified sleep specialist. Narcolepsy is treated with medications and lifestyle management.