Narcolepsy

Narcolepsy is a chronic, neurological sleep disorder that occurs because of a hormone deficiency, which has no known cause.

What are the symptoms of narcolepsy?

Children with narcolepsy may experience:

•    Excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS), or an overwhelming desire to sleep at inappropriate times.
•    Cataplexy, which is a sudden loss of muscle control ranging from slight weakness to total collapse.
•    Sleep paralysis, which is when a child is unable to talk or move for about 1 minute when falling asleep or waking up.
•    Hallucinations such as vivid and often scary dreams and sounds reported when falling asleep (hypnagogic) or on awakening (hypnopompic).

How is narcolepsy diagnosed?

To diagnose narcolepsy, our Sleep Center may conduct a sleep study with the following tests:

•    An overnight polysomnogram is done to evaluate for other contributing sleep-related disorders.
•    A multiple sleep latency test (MSLT) is done immediately following an overnight sleep study. A child will take multiple naps to determine if he or she reaches REM sleep.

How is narcolepsy treated?

There is no cure for narcolepsy at this time. However, we can help manage symptoms so that your child can lead a near normal life. Treatment options may include:

•    Medications.
•    Nap therapy. Two or three short naps during the day may help control sleepiness and maintain alertness.
•    Proper diet.
•    Regular exercise.
•    Behavioral therapy.

If your child shows signs of narcolepsy, talk with their doctor about having a CHOC Children’s sleep study.