Treatment for Narcolepsy

There is no known cure for narcolepsy. Most treatments for narcolepsy are aimed at reducing or controlling the symptoms so that they do not have to great an impact on normal like. These may include:

  • Lifestyle changes such as eating light during the day and avoiding heavy meals at night
  • Stay away from caffeine and soda before sleeping. Avoid tobacco, alcohol, and some prescription medicines as well (consult with your doctor before changing any medications)
  • Planning your daytime sleep to reduce the amount of sleep attacks
  • Try and have a small fifteen-minute nap after meals if possible
  • Avoid stressful situation that may trigger off another attack
  • Exercise regularly but not for three hours before going to sleep
  • Your doctor may prescribe medications to stay awake. These could include stimulants such as armodafinil and dextroamphetamine
  • Anti-depressant medication may also help control symptoms such as hallucinations and cataplexy
  • Sodium oxybate is a popular medication used to treat narcolepsy with cataplexy. Also known as GHB, this is a strong drug that is used in severe cases only. Though it can lessen daytime sleepiness and reduce cataplexy, the side effects of the drug can be serious and too high a dosage may even lead to coma and death
  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are a different type of anti-depressant drug that increases the level of serotonin in the brain. The side effects of SSRIs are milder than tricyclic anti-depressants and is often prescribed as an alternative

Frequently asked questions
  1. Imran Ahmed, Michael Thorpy, Clinical Features, Diagnosis and Treatment of Narcolepsy, Clinics in Chest Medicine, Volume 31, Issue 2, June 2010, Pages 371-381, ISSN 0272-5231, 10.1016/j.ccm.2010.02.014.
  2. Michael Thorpy, Therapeutic advances in narcolepsy, Sleep Medicine, Volume 8, Issue 4, June 2007, Pages 427-440, ISSN 1389-9457, 10.1016/j.sleep.2007.03.004.
  3. Ian Morrison, Renata L. Riha, Excessive daytime sleepiness and narcolepsy — An approach to investigation and management, European Journal of Internal Medicine, Volume 23, Issue 2, March 2012, Pages 110-117, ISSN 0953-6205, 10.1016/j.ejim.2011.09.005.