Effective treatments to help you manage narcolepsy

Narcolepsy Care at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital–Needham

Narcolepsy is a neurological condition that affects your brain’s ability to control your body’s sleep-wake cycles. About 200,000 Americans have narcolepsy. However, only one-fourth of them are diagnosed.

Most people begin having narcolepsy symptoms in their teens or 20s. Many years can go by between the time you first experience symptoms and when you’re correctly diagnosed.

The sooner you work with a sleep health specialist at BID Needham, the sooner we can help you find relief.

Learn More

Get more details on narcolepsy symptoms, diagnostic tests and treatment options.

Narcolepsy Symptoms

Symptoms of narcolepsy include:

  • Always being very sleepy, except right after you wake up.
  • Sleep paralysis (unable to talk or move while falling sleep or when waking up).
  • Waking up multiple times during the night.

In some cases, people with narcolepsy also experience cataplexy, which is a sudden loss of muscle control — usually due to emotional excitement. Laughter, surprise and anger are common triggers of cataplexy.

With cataplexy, you may notice:

  • Sudden twitching of small face muscles
  • Speech that can’t be understood
  • Drooping of upper eyelids
  • Limpness of the neck
  • Sagging in a chair
  • Sinking to the floor, but not passing out

Muscle weakness typically occurs for seconds or minutes. The person with narcolepsy is likely to fall asleep if this weakness lasts longer than two minutes.

The symptoms of narcolepsy tend to continue throughout the person’s lifetime. In most cases, excessive sleepiness begins months or years cataplexy begins.

Narcolepsy Diagnosis

If you have the symptoms of narcolepsy — especially with cataplexy — your doctor will likely recommend that you have one or a series of sleep studies.

Narcolepsy Treatment

There is no cure for this condition. Therefore, treatment focuses on managing your symptoms. Your doctor may prescribe a medication, such as oxybate, a natural substance that consolidates sleep.

Your doctor may also recommend that you make lifestyle changes, such as following a regular sleep-wake schedule and taking daytime naps.

Services & Specialties

We offer these and other services to support your sleep health needs.

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To speak with a member of our team, please call.