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eMed previously Babylon Health


Edited by Dr Claudia Pastides, 3rd April 2019

Narcolepsy is a rare condition where you are excessively tired during the day, fall asleep suddenly and at very inappropriate times.


  • Narcolepsy is increasingly thought to be due to a deficiency in a chemical that regulates sleep, caused by the body’s own immune system
  • Genetics
  • Changes to hormones
  • An infection (such as swine flu)
  • The flu vaccine (Pandemrix has been linked to narcolepsy)

Risk factors

Besides the causes mentioned above, the risk of narcolepsy is higher if you have:

  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Suffered a head injury
  • A problem with brain structure

Typical Symptoms

  • Falling asleep at inappropriate times
  • Feeling excessively tired at various times throughout the day
  • Cataplexy (temporary loss of muscle tone that can cause you to collapse suddenly)
  • Sleep paralysis (being awake but unable to move your body)
  • Hallucinations that occur around the time of falling asleep or waking

Common Treatment

There is no cure for narcolepsy but the condition can be improved by:

  • Practicing good sleep hygiene (for sleep hygiene tips have a look at the insomnia page)
  • Medication for narcolepsy

When to speak to a doctor

If you think you might have narcolepsy, please speak to a doctor. Any worries or questions can be initially answered via a digital consultation. The GP can then arrange further investigations as needed.

To speak to one of our GPs, download the app and create an account today.

More information

Narcolepsy UK -


The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Seek the advice of a doctor with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never delay seeking or disregard professional medical advice because of something you have read here.