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Narcolepsy

Narcolepsy
  • Sleep hygiene is very important. For example, many people have an improvement in their symptoms if they maintain a regular sleep schedule, usually seven to eight hours of Sleep per night.
  • Scheduled naps during the day also help. One study suggested that the optimal sleep pattern is a combination of scheduled nighttime Sleep (such as from 11:00 pm to 7:30 am) and two 15-minute naps.
  • Patients with narcolepsy should also avoid heavy meals and alcohol (as it can interfere with Sleep).
  • Driving should be restricted when the patient feels Sleepy.
  • Children should be encouraged to participate in after-school activities and sports. A well-designed exercise program can be beneficial and stimulating.
  • Parents should request school personnel to excuse the child from activities if he or she appears drowsy.
Outlook

Problems in children with narcolepsy include poor school performance, social impairment, ridicule from peers, and dysfunction in other activities of normal childhood development.

Adults often perceive narcoleptic symptoms as embarrassing, and social isolation may result.

  • They may encounter interpersonal stress  in relationships, sexual dysfunction, and difficulty working because of the condition itself or its treatment.
  • They may experience job impairment from sleep attacks, memory problems, cataplexy, interpersonal problems, and personality changes. These symptoms may lead coworkers to perceive them as "lazy."
  • Persons with narcolepsy are sometimes falsely suspected of illegal drug use.
  • Persons who are taking stimulant medications should inform their employers, because they may test positive for amphetamines on screening drug tests.
  • Persons with narcolepsy are at an increased risk for automobile accidents.

Left untreated, narcolepsy may be psychosocially devastating. However, with proper management and treatment, persons with narcolepsy usually lead meaningful and productive personal and professional lives.

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