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How to Diagnose and Treat Narcolepsy

Sandeep Dhanyamraju MD
Medically reviewed by Sandeep Dhanyamraju
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Sandeep Dhanyamraju MD
Medically reviewed by Sandeep Dhanyamraju

Narcolepsy is one of the sleep disorders distinguished by uncontrollable and sudden urges to sleep.

Narcolepsy is one of the sleep disorders which is characterized by excessive and sudden falling asleep. The most common symptom is the suddenness of your urge to sleep and the inability to control it, even if it’s daytime. 

The statistics show that approximately 3M people in the world are struggling with this diagnosis. Unfortunately, 200,000 of them are in the USA. But there’s another trick that makes this illness so rare. Sleep disorders are generally quite difficult to be self-diagnosed and most people confuse their sleep problems with simple fatigue.

You see, only 25% of all people who have narcolepsy ask for professional help and so receive some kind of treatment. Most don’t even realize they need some help. This results in considerable low knowledge of narcolepsy, its outcomes, and treatment. At the moment physicians still haven’t found any cure for this disease. But there are many ways to treat it and other recommendations that can improve your life and help you cope with the illness. 

Remember that the best option here is to care for your health and if you notice some problems with your sleep you should ask for professional aid. Here we are to tell you everything about the process of narcolepsy diagnosing and also its treatment. 

Symptoms of narcolepsy

Symptoms of Narcolepsy

Several basic symptoms are regarded as the ‘red’ signs of having narcolepsy:

  • EDS or excessive daytime sleepiness. 
  • Cataplexy or loss of muscle function. 
  • Hallucinations.
  • Paralysis during sleep.
  • Disrupted sleep. 

EDS or excessive daytime sleepiness. When you suddenly fall asleep at any time but especially during the day, it is the most obvious sign of narcolepsy. Generally, having EDS complicates your life, as it directly disturbs you during your daytime activities. Unfortunately, it happens regardless of whether you sleeping at night.

Cataplexy or loss of muscle function. Common symptoms, especially for narcolepsy of the 1st type. Sometimes people with narcolepsy admit that they experienced sudden muscle weakness for a long period before falling asleep. That’s one of the reasons why narcolepsy is so rare to be diagnosed at the beginning. Most people regard their sudden weakness and urge to sleep, as simple fatigue

Hallucinations. Hallucinations may occur at any time a day to you. They are usually very vivid and bright. These visions also can happen to you before falling asleep. Visions of this kind are called hypnagogic. And visions that appear straight after your awakening are called hypnopompic.

Paralysis during sleep. Also, one of the most common symptoms of narcolepsy. It usually occurs when you fall asleep or during sleep, and results in the full inability to move or speak. Commonly lasts a few minutes.

Disrupted sleep. Unfortunately, also quite a common signal of narcolepsy is caused by unstable breathing rate, disrupted REM sleep or uncontrollable body movements. 

Diagnosis of narcolepsy


Diagnosis of Narcolepsy

In order to diagnose this sleep disorder, you need to run:

  • Neurological test. Like any disease that is caused by disorders in the nervous system, to get the right diagnosis of narcolepsy you should ask for professional help. Neurological tests will define the stage of the disease. So the treatment will be more accurate, as doctors would pick up the most suitable medication and doses for you.
  • Sleep analytics. This is valuable information in the case of most sleep disorders. Doctors will probably ask you for your sleep history. Like, as when did you start experiencing difficulties, how long you slept last, and so on. Also, you will have to keep some sort of sleep diaries, where you can note your sleep patterns. So, you have to compare the quality of your sleep before and after the visit. In this way, physicians will be able to define when the disease started progressing. 
  • Polysomnography. This test implies you spend the whole night in the hospital, so special electrodes connected to your body would work. This test is required to measure the processes in your body during your sleep. It gives information on your brain activity, heart rate, and muscle work during sleep. It also checks your eyes’ movement. 
  • Multiple sleep latency test. This test is also crucial as it helps define when you enter the REM sleep stage. REM sleep is the last sleep stage and, the deepest one. You will have to take 4 or 5 naps, 2 hours long each, so the doctors will know how much it takes for you to reach the deepest sleep stage. 

Treatment of narcolepsy

Treatment of Narcolepsy

There is no particular cure for this illness, however, doctors have found several solutions on how to ease your life:

  • Avoidance of alcohol, nicotine and caffeine. Though a little dose of caffeine can be even good you should control it. 
  • Stimulants to control sleepiness.
  • Antidepressants.
  • Sodium oxybate in muscle weakness.
  • Pitolisant or Solriamfetol to stay awake for a longer time.

Your doctor may also prescribe stimulant medications, such as modafinil (Provigil®) or methylphenidate (Ritalin®), to improve concentration. The patient should take the drug exactly as prescribed before making any changes to the dosage or schedule.

Scheduled nap breaks and activity increases focus throughout the day. If the patient has concentration difficulty, dangerous activities should be avoided such as cycling, driving, cooking (anything that’s relevant to a cooker), swimming, etc.

School special conditions for children with narcolepsy

A child or teenager may need special conditions at school. The family, together with the school, should develop an individual educational plan for the child. Special conditions may include scheduled naps, later start times, a shorter school day, or extra time for homework or tests.

sleep in narcolepsy disease

Recommendations for Healthy Sleep in Narcolepsy Disease

Healthy sleep is also the key to the treatment of narcolepsy. You need to:

  • Know how much sleep you need. Children and teens need more sleep than adults, and children with cancer may need even more sleep. Discuss with your doctor the recommended amount of sleep per night, including daytime napping.
  • Create a comfortable sleeping environment. Prepare a quiet, cool and comfortable place for sleeping only. Limit exposure to light and noise during the night.
  • Avoid caffeine and nicotine, especially in the evening. Avoid caffeinated foods and drinks after 4:00 pm or 6 hours before bedtime.
  • Physical exercise. Physical activity during the day can improve the quality of sleep at night. Avoid strenuous exercise before bed.
  • Be outdoors. Exposure to sunlight or bright light during the day helps maintain the sleep-wake cycle.
  • Get in the habit of relaxing before bed. Turn off the TV and put away electronic devices. Think with your child about ways to calm down and relax.

 On the whole, though there’s almost no chance you will fully cure narcolepsy, modern medicine with its up-to-date amenities and knowledge can help you. A timely visit to a doctor will help you to cope with illness, as you will define the roots of your trouble.  


  • What is the test to diagnose narcolepsy?

The direct test applied for the diagnosis of narcolepsy is the Multiple Sleep Latency Test (MSLT). This one is regarded as the most effective one. 

  • Can a regular doctor diagnose narcolepsy?

No, a regular doctor can only see that something is wrong with you and if there are any suspicions, then a doctor sends you to a neurologist.

  • Who diagnoses and treats narcolepsy?

Narcolepsy is usually treated in special neurological departments by neurologists or sleep professionals. If you doubt what doctor to visit, better visit a sleep professional, so to get a precise diagnosis.

  •  What food groups and vitamins are missing if you want to sleep all the time?

Vitamin B deficiency causes constant fatigue, even with normal sleep and rest. Vitamin B includes such sources as: buckwheat, oatmeal, bread products, dairy products, dried fruits and seafood. Vitamin C – improves immunity, and gives strength and endurance.

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Edward Medina
Edward Medina
15:34 30 Jun 22
Just such an amazing staff that makes you feel like part of their family. I’ve been going there for over 5 years now... and each visit I get the very best care and treatments that I have ever received in the 20+ years that I’ve been dealing with severe debilitating migraines. Since i started seeing them the number of my migraines has dropped from 15-20 a month to 2-3 every 3 month. I highly recommend them …they will change your life!read more
Daneisha Johnson
Daneisha Johnson
22:20 19 May 22
Dr. Askari was very kind and explained everything so I could understand. The other staff were nice as well. I would... have gave 5 stars but I was a little taken aback when I checked in and had to pay 600.00 upfront. I think that should have been discussed in a appointment confirmation call or email just so I could have been more
Jean Cooper
Jean Cooper
16:54 29 Apr 22
I love the office staff they are friendly and very helpful. Dr. JODIE is very caring and understanding to your needs... and wants to help you. I will go back. would recommend Dr. Dr. Jodie to other Patients in a heart beat. The team works well more
Linda M
Linda M
19:40 02 Apr 22
I was obviously stressed, needing to see a neurologist. The staff was so patient and Dr. Ansari was so kind. At one... point he told me to relax, we have time, when I was relaying my history of my condition. That helped ease my stress. I have seen 3 other neurologists and he was the only one who performed any assessment tests on my cognitive and physical skills. At one point I couldn't complete two assessments and got upset and cried. I was told, it's OK. That's why you're here. I was truly impressed, and super pleased with the whole experience!read more
Leslie Durham
Leslie Durham
15:05 01 Apr 22
I've been coming here for about 5 years. The staff are ALWAYS friendly and knowledgeable. The Doctors are the absolute... best!! Jodie Moore is always in such a great mood which is a plus when you are already stressed. Highly recommendedread more
Monica Del Bosque
Monica Del Bosque
14:13 25 Mar 22
Since my first post my thoughts have changed here. It's unfortunate. My doctor and PA were great, but the office staff... is horrible. They never call you back when they say they will, they misinform you, they cause you too much stress wondering what's going on, they don't keep you posted. They never answer the phone. At this point I've left four messages in the last week, and I have sent three messages. Twice from their portal and one direct email. No response. My appointment is on Monday morning at 8:30am, no confirmation on my insurance and what's going on. What the heck is going on, this is ridiculous!I've given up... the stress her office staff has put me through is just not worth it. You can do so much better, please clean house, either change out your office staff, or find a way for them to be more efficient please. You have to do something. This is not how you want to run your practice. It leaves a very bad impression on your more
Ron Buckholz
Ron Buckholz
23:32 23 Mar 22
I was actually pleasantly surprised with this visit! It took me a long time to get the appointment scheduled because no... one answers your phones EVER! After a month, I finally got in, and your staff was warm, friendly, and I was totally impressed! I feel like you will take care of my needs!read more
Steve Nabavi
Steve Nabavi
16:28 16 Mar 22
It was a nice visit. Happy staff doing all they can do to comfort the patients in a very calming environment. You ask... me they are earned a big gold star on the fridge. My only complaint they didn't give me any more
Katie Lewis
Katie Lewis
16:10 10 Feb 22
Had very positive appointments with Jodie and Dr. Sheth for my migraine care. Jodie was so fast with the injections and... has so much valuable info. I started to feel light headed during checkout and the staff was SO helpful—giving me a chair, water, and taking me into a private room until I felt better. Highly recommend this practice for migraine patients, they know what they’re doing!!read more
Joshua Martinez
Joshua Martinez
16:02 10 Dec 21
I was scheduled to be checked and just want to say that the staff was fantastic. They were kind and helpful. I was... asked many questions related to what was going on and not once did I feel as though I was being brushed off. The front desk staff was especially great in assisting me. I'm scheduled to go back for a mri and am glad that I'll be going more
Isabel Ivy
Isabel Ivy
21:42 03 Nov 21
I had such a good experience with Lone Star Neurology, Brent my MRI Tech was so awesome and made sure I was very... comfortable during the appointment. He gave me ear plugs, a pillow, leg support and blanket, easiest MRI ever lol 🤣 My 72 hour EEG nurse Amanda was also so awesome. She made sure I was take care of over the 3 days and took her time with the electrodes to make sure it was comfortable for me! Paige was also a huge help in answering all my questions when it came to my test results, and letting me know her honest opinions about how I should go forth with my more
Leslie Luce
Leslie Luce
17:37 20 Oct 21
The professionalism and want to help attitude of this office was present from the moment I contacted them. The follow... up and follow through as well as their willingness to find a way to schedule my dad was above and beyond. We visited two offices in the same day with the same experience. I am appreciative of this—we spend a lot of time with doctors and this was top notch start to more
robert Parker
robert Parker
16:38 16 Apr 21
I love going to this office. The staff is friendly and helpful. The doctor is great. I am getting the best... neurological tests and treatment I have ever had. The only reason I did not give them a 5 star rating is because it is impossible to reach a live person at the office to reschedule appointments. Every time I have tried to get through to the office it says all people are busy and I am sent to a voicemail. If they could get their phone answering fixed, I would give them a strong 5 more
MaryAnn Hornbaker
MaryAnn Hornbaker
00:26 25 Feb 21
Dr. Harney is an excellent Dr. I found him friendly , personable and thorough. I evidently am an unusual case. ... Therefore he spent a Hugh amount of time educating me. He even gave me literature to further explain my condition and how to follow up. This is something you rarely get from your doctors. So I am more than please with my doctor and his more
Roger Arguello
Roger Arguello
03:05 29 Jan 21
Always courteous, professional. The staff is very friendly and always work with you to find the best appointment time.... The care team has been great. Always taking the time to listen to your concerns and to find the best more
Margaret Rowland
Margaret Rowland
01:12 27 Jan 21
I have been a patient at Lone Star Neurology for several years. Now both my adult daughters also are patients there. I... love Jodie. She is always so prompt whether it is a teleamed call are a visit in the office. She takes the time to explain everything to me and answers all my questions. I am so blessed to have Jodie as my more
Susan Miller
Susan Miller
03:01 13 Jan 21
My husband had an accident 5 years ago and Lone Star Neurology has been such a blessing to us with my husbands care.... Jodie Moore is his provider and she is amazing! Jodie is very knowledgeable, caring, and thorough. She takes her time with you, making sure your needs are met and she is happy to answer any questions you may have. Lone Star Neurology’s patients are very lucky to have Jodie providing their care. Thank you Lone Star Neurology and especially Jodie for everything you have done for us. Jodie, you are the best!read more
Windalyn C
Windalyn C
01:32 09 Jan 21
Jodie is wonderful. She is very caring and knowledgeable. I have been to over a dozen neurologists, and none were able... to help me as much as they have here. Thanks!read more
Katie Kordel
Katie Kordel
00:40 09 Jan 21
Jodi Moore, nurse practitioner, is amazing. I have suffered from frequent, debilitating headaches for almost 20 years.... She has provided the best proactive and responsive care I have ever received. My quality of life has been greatly improved by her caring approach and tenacity in finding more
Ellie Natsis
Ellie Natsis
15:41 07 Jan 21
I have had the best experience at this neurologist's office! For over a year I have been receiving iv treatments here... each month and my nurse, Bobbie is beyond wonderful!! She's so attentive, knowledgeable, caring, and detail oriented. She makes an otherwise uncomfortable experience much more pleasant and definitely puts me at ease! She also helps me with my insurance,ordering this specialty medication and dealing with the ordering process which is no easy feat.Needless to say, she goes above a beyond in every way and I'm so grateful to this office and to Bobbie for all they do for me!read more
Matt Morris
Matt Morris
15:39 07 Jan 21
Let me start by saying that I have been coming here for years. Due to my autoimmune disease, I am in this office... once every three weeks for multiple hours at a time. The office is very clean and the staff very friendly. My only complaint would be there communication via phone. They aren't the best at responding if you leave a voicemail and expect a call back. I understand that this is prob just due to the sheer number of alls they receive daily. What I can say I like the best about the office are the people. Bobby who handles my infusions is great. I never have any issues with her setting up my infusions. She is very quick to reply to messages sent via text and if she were to leave then my whole opinion of the office may change. I also enjoy people like Matt, Lauren, and Jodi. I appreciate all that they do for me and without this team I'm not sure I would be as happy as I am to visit the office as frequently as I have to. Please ensure that these folks are recognized as they are what makes my visit to this office so tolerable :).read more
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