Narcolepsy : Sleep Disorder : Treatment

Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder that causes excessive sleepiness and frequent daytime sleep attacks.


There is no known cure for narcolepsy. The goal of treatment is to control symptoms.
Lifestyle adjustments and learning to cope with the emotional and other effects of the disorder may help you function better in work and social activities. This involves:

  1. Eating light or vegetarian meals during the day and avoiding heavy meals before important activities
  2. Scheduling a brief nap (10 to 15 minutes) after meals, if possible
  3. Planning naps to control daytime sleep and reduce the number of unplanned, sudden sleep attacks
  4. Informing teachers and supervisors about the condition so you are not punished for being “lazy” at school or work

You may need to take prescription medications. The stimulant drug modafinil(Provigil) is the first choice of treatment for narcolepsy. It is much less likely to be abused than other stimulants. The medicine also helps you stay awake. Other stimulants include dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine, DextroStat) and methylphenidate (Ritalin).

Antidepressant medications can help reduce episodes of cataplexy, sleep paralysis, and hallucinations. Antidepressants include:
(a) Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as fluoxetine,paroxetine, sertraline, and venlafaxine
(b) Tricyclic antidepressants such as protriptyline clomipramine,imipramine, and desipramine
Sodium oxybate (Xyrem) is prescribed to certain patients for use at night.


  1. Injuries and accidents, if attacks occur during activities
  2. Impairment of functioning at work
  3. Impairment of social activities
  4. Side effects of medications used to treat the disorder

There is no known way to prevent narcolepsy. Treatment may reduce the number of attacks. Avoid situations that aggravate the condition if you are prone to attacks of narcolepsy.

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