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
- Changes to hormones
- An infection (such as swine flu)
- The flu vaccine (Pandemrix has been linked to narcolepsy)
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
- 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
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 Babylon GPs, download the app and create an account today.
Narcolepsy UK - https://www.narcolepsy.org.uk/
NHS - https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/narcolepsy/
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.