Skip to content
    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Narcolepsy

    Important
    It is possible that the main title of the report Narcolepsy is not the name you expected. Please check the synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and disorder subdivision(s) covered by this report.

    Synonyms

    • Gelineau's syndrome
    • narcoleptic syndrome
    • paroxysmal sleep
    • hypnolepsy

    Disorder Subdivisions

    • narcolepsy with cataplexy
    • narcolepsy without cataplexy

    General Discussion

    Narcolepsy is a neurological sleep disorder characterized by chronic, excessive attacks of drowsiness during the day, sometimes called excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS). Attacks of drowsiness may persist for only a few seconds or several minutes. These episodes vary in frequency from a few incidents to several during a single day. Nighttime (nocturnal) sleep patterns may also be disrupted. Three additional symptoms often associated with narcolepsy are sudden extreme muscle weakness (cataplexy), a specific type of hallucination that occurs just before falling asleep or upon awakening, and brief episodes of paralysis while waking up. Narcolepsy also may be associated with "automatic behavior", i.e. doing something automatically without any memory afterward. The incidence of narcolepsy is approximately 1 in 2,000 and most researchers believe that the disorder remains undiagnosed or misdiagnosed in many cases.

    There is increasing evidence that narcolepsy is an autoimmune disorder. Autoimmune disorders are caused when the body's immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue or cells. In narcolepsy, the immune system destroys certain brain cells that produce a peptide called hypocretin. Hypocretin impacts on many brain functions, but the details of its actions are not yet understood. Why the immune system attacks healthy cells in narcolepsy is unknown and additional environmental and genetic factors may play a role in the development of the disorder.

    Resources

    National Sleep Foundation
    1010 N. Glebe Road
    Suite 310
    Arlington, VA 22201
    Tel: (703)243-1697
    Email: nsf@sleepfoundation.org
    Internet: http://www.sleepfoundation.org

    Narcolepsy Network, Inc.
    129 Waterwheel Lane
    North Kingstown, RI 02852
    USA
    Tel: (401)667-2523
    Fax: (401)633-6567
    Tel: (888)292-6522
    Email: narnet@narcolepsynetwork.org
    Internet: http://www.narcolepsynetwork.org

    American Sleep Association
    1610 14th Street NW
    Suite 300
    Rochester, MN 55901
    Tel: (507)287-6006
    Fax: (507)287-6008
    Email: asda@millcomm.com
    Internet: http://www.sleepassociation.org/

    Tri-State Sleep Disorders Center
    1275 E. Kemper Rd.
    Cincinnati, OH 45246
    Tel: (513)671-3101
    Fax: (513)671-4159
    Tel: (800)838-4322
    TDD: (311)111-6111
    Email: ggaz@tristatesleep.com
    Internet: http://www.tristatesleep.com

    Narcolepsy Institute
    Montefiore Medical Center
    111 East 210th Street
    Bronx, NY 10467
    Tel: (718)920-6799
    Fax: (718)654-9580
    Email: MGoswami@NarcolepsyInstitute.org
    Internet: http://www.narcolepsyinstitute.org

    NIH/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
    P.O. Box 5801
    Bethesda, MD 20824
    Tel: (301)496-5751
    Fax: (301)402-2186
    Tel: (800)352-9424
    TDD: (301)468-5981
    Internet: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/

    MedicAlert Foundation International
    2323 Colorado Avenue
    Turlock, CA 95382
    USA
    Tel: (209)669-2401
    Fax: (209)669-2456
    Tel: (888)633-4298
    Email: Inquiries@medicalert.org
    Internet: http://www.medicalert.org

    Center for Narcolepsy, Sleep and Health Research
    College of Nursing, Suite 215
    University of Illinois at Chicago
    845 South Damen Avenue (M/C 802)
    Chicago, IL 60612
    Tel: (312)996-5176
    Fax: (312)996-7008
    Email: CNSHR@listserv.uic.edu
    Internet: http://www.uic.edu/orgs/cnshr/

    Genetic and Rare Diseases (GARD) Information Center
    PO Box 8126
    Gaithersburg, MD 20898-8126
    Tel: (301)251-4925
    Fax: (301)251-4911
    Tel: (888)205-2311
    TDD: (888)205-3223
    Internet: http://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/GARD/

    For a Complete Report:

    This is an abstract of a report from the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD). A copy of the complete report can be downloaded free from the NORD website for registered users. The complete report contains additional information including symptoms, causes, affected population, related disorders, standard and investigational therapies (if available), and references from medical literature. For a full-text version of this topic, go to www.rarediseases.org and click on Rare Disease Database under "Rare Disease Information".

    The information provided in this report is not intended for diagnostic purposes. It is provided for informational purposes only. NORD recommends that affected individuals seek the advice or counsel of their own personal physicians.

    It is possible that the title of this topic is not the name you selected. Please check the Synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and Disorder Subdivision(s) covered by this report

    This disease entry is based upon medical information available through the date at the end of the topic. Since NORD's resources are limited, it is not possible to keep every entry in the Rare Disease Database completely current and accurate. Please check with the agencies listed in the Resources section for the most current information about this disorder.

    For additional information and assistance about rare disorders, please contact the National Organization for Rare Disorders at P.O. Box 1968, Danbury, CT 06813-1968; phone (203) 744-0100; web site www.rarediseases.org or email orphan@rarediseases.org

    Last Updated: 3/2/2012
    Copyright 1986, 1988, 1990, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2009, 2010, 2012 National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc.

    WebMD Medical Reference from the National Organization for Rare Disorders

    Last Updated: May 28, 2015
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

    Today on WebMD

    fatigued senior woman
    We’ve got 10 tips to show you how
    Man snoring in bed
    Know your myths from your facts.
     
    Young woman sleeping
    What do your dreams say about you?
    woman eith hangover
    It’s common, and really misunderstood.
     
    Young woman sleeping
    Quiz
    Cannot sleep
    Video
     
    child sitting in bed
    Article
    Woman with insomnia
    Quiz
     
    nurse sleeping
    ARTICLE
    Foods That Help Or Harm Your Sleep
    SLIDESHOW
     
    Insomnia 20 Tips For Better Sleep
    Slideshow
    Pain at Night
    ARTICLE