Sleep Disorders Center of Santa Maria

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Although there is no cure for narcolepsy, it can be treated well with medication and lifestyle changes.

Treatment plans differ depending the severity of you symptoms.

Your treatment plan may include:

Alerting medications or  stimulants:  Your sleep specialist may prescribe for you a stimulant to help you stay awake during the day. Some of the preferred medications at the Sleep Disorders Center of Santa Maria are armodafinil (Nuvigil) and  modafinil (Provigil).  These medications are less addictive and have fewer side effects compared to other stimulants.  Other medications prescribed for narcolepsy include methylphenidate (Ritalin) or amphetamines.

SSRIs or antidepressants
These medications are often prescribed to treat cataplexy, as well as other narcolepsy symptoms including hallucinations and sleep paralysis. The effects vary depending on the medication.

In severe cases of narcolepsy, your doctor may prescribe sodium oxybate (Xyrem).  

Lifestyle adjustments

Your physician may also recommendlifestyle changes that can help you manage the symptoms of narcolepsy. You will need to keep a consistent sleep schedule by going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day, including weekends. If possible, schedule short 20-minute naps throughout the day. To increase your energy through the day, try to get regular exercise and avoid use of tobacco, alcohol or drugs.

Narcolepsy is a neurologic sleep disorder that makes you feel sleepy most of the time. People with narcolepsy sometimes fall asleep all of sudden, even when they don’t expect to. They can even fall asleep while they are in the middle of activities, such as eating, talking, or driving.

Approximately 1 in  2,000 people in the United States have narcolepsy.  Many people with narcolepsy are unaware of the condition and are undiagnosed. Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder which causes irregular patterns in Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep and significant disruptions of the normal sleep/wake cycle. The cause of narcolepsy is not completely understood, our current understanding is that narcolepsy is caused by damage to a small group of neurons in the brain.  The damaged neurons normally make a neurotransmitter (hypocretin/orexin) which is important in alertness.   New research points to a combination of genetic and environmental factors that influence the immune system and damage these neurons.