Treating Narcolepsy

Treating narcolepsy will help reduce your symptoms. Work with your health care provider to create a plan that’s best for you. Learning healthy habits and taking medications can improve your life. Getting support from your family and friends will also help you to cope with narcolepsy at home and at work.

Health care provider placing sensors on man's head, preparing for sleep study.

Working with your health care provider

Describe your sleeping problems to your health care provider. Be prepared to answer questions about your medical and family history. Try to keep a daily sleep diary for a couple of weeks. Record the times when you fall asleep and wake up. Also write down any symptoms you notice. A sleep study and daytime nap study can help diagnose narcolepsy. Your health care provider can help you find the medication that works best for you. He or she will discuss any possible side effects.

Sleep study

A sleep study is done at a sleep clinic. Sensors will be placed on your head and body to record your brain waves and body movement. Your sleep will be monitored all night in a study called a polysomnogram. You will also have a daytime nap study called a multiple sleep latency test. The results will help your health care provider to diagnose narcolepsy. Then your treatment can be planned.

Living with narcolepsy

Symptoms of narcolepsy may affect your daily life. But you can learn ways to cope at home, work, or school. Try these tips:

  • Teach your family and friends about narcolepsy and your special needs.

  • Join a narcolepsy support group. There, you can talk about your sleep problem and share ideas about coping with your symptoms.

  • Report changes in your symptoms and any medication side effects to your health care provider.

  • At school, tell your teacher or school nurse about your special needs.

  • If you become drowsy when driving, pull over to a safe place to nap.

Healthy habits

These healthy habits may help reduce your symptoms:

  • Schedule short naps during the day. Planned naps can be helpful for reducing drowsiness.

  • Keep a regular sleep schedule. Go to bed and get up at the same time each day.

  • Exercise regularly. Avoid strenuous exercise 2 to 4 hours before bedtime.

  • Avoid or limit caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol for several hours before bed.



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