Symptoms of Narcolepsy

Narcolepsy symptoms mainly start when you're a teen or young adult. These can happen even if you get enough sleep each night. Some people find their symptoms worsen with age. Women with narcolepsy start to feel better after menopause.

You may have one or more of:

  • Overwhelming daytime sleepiness
  • Sleep attacks that you can't control—They can last 3 to 30 minutes long. They may happen from time to time during the day. But, they can also happen because of:
    • Being in a warm environment
    • Eating a heavy meal
    • Working in a place you find boring or where you don't move around much
  • Cataplexy is a sudden and complete loss of muscle tone and strength. It can happen at any time during the day. It's mainly caused by:
    • Strong emotions such as anger and laughter
    • Stress
    • Being tickled
    • An orgasm
    • Eating a heavy meal
  • Sleep paralysis is a complete or partial inability to move or speak. This happens just as a sleep attack starts or ends.
  • Hallucinations:
    • Mainly happen as sleep starts or ends—sometimes can happen when you're awake
    • Are mostly vivid images that you can see, but they don't exist
    • Can also be heard and felt
  • Automatic behavior:
    • Episodes like sleepwalking that may happen during sleep attacks
    • May include continuation of current activity or meaningless speech
  • Problems with staying asleep at night
  • Memory problems
  • Vision problems
  • Frequent nighttime waking


Narcolepsy. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: . Updated November 14, 2017. Accessed September 5, 2018.
Narcolepsy. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. National Institutes of Health website. Available at: Accessed September 5, 2018.
Narcolepsy fact sheet. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: Updated July 6, 2018. Accessed September 5, 2018.
Last reviewed May 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Adrian Preda, MD
Last Updated: 9/5/2018

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