What is Narcolepsy & Cataplexy?


Narcolepsy is a neurological disorder that affects the control of sleep and wakefulness.” – WebMD


“Narcolepsy is a horrible fucking sleep disorder that turns your life upside down.” – Lanna Barrison

Narcolepsy is a lifelong, incurable, neurological disorder caused by the depletion of the neurotransmitter hypocretin/orexin that affects sleep and wakefulness. Narcolepsy causes sufferers to feel as though they have been awake for 72 hours straight. Narcoleptics suffer from very poor, fragmented nighttime sleep and excessive daytime sleepiness. People with narcolepsy spend too much time  and fall too quickly into REM sleep. As a result, they do not spend enough time in the other restful and restorative stages of sleep which wreaks havoc on their sleep/wakefulness internal regulation. Narcolepsy often includes hypnagogic and hypnopompic hallucinations as well as sleep paralysis. Narcolepsy is often treated with wakefulness promoting drugs such as Modafinil or stimulants such as Ritalin or Biphentin.


“Losing muscle control whenever you feel strong emotion. Cataplectics may collapse every time they laugh.” – WebMD


“Uncontrollable awkward bodily movements that cause people in grocery stores to stare.” – Lanna Barrison

Narcolepsy is often accompanied by another neurological condition known as cataplexy. Cataplexy is a loss of muscle tone, often experienced during periods of strong emotion (eg. laughter, sadness, anger, etc.) Cataplexy can range greatly in severity from droopy eyes lids to a protruding tongue to a full body collapse. Cataplexy is often treated with antidepressants such as Prozac or Effexor that work by suppressing REM sleep and improving the quality of sleep. Xyrem (aka sodium oxybate, GHB, the date rape drug) is also used in the treatment of cataplexy. It is a relatively new drug, that is taken twice nightly to induce restful sleep. The side effects of this medication are long and scary and the long-term effects are not yet fully understood.




This is Narcolepsy.


This is Cataplexy.


10 thoughts on “What is Narcolepsy & Cataplexy?

  1. I encourage you to look into the Narcolepsy and sleep disorders Vol 1 No. 4, October-December 1995, ISSN 1085-8504. As a sufferer of Narcolepsy, I was almost incapacitated by my symptoms of Cataplexy. It became very difficult when I was about 19 years old. I couldn’t hang out with my friends without collapsing on the ground or sitting on the ground for fear of falling. I would have attacks sometimes dozens of times a day. Triggered by emotions… the worst…laughter, but by anger as well. Anything that made me think deep thoughts of emotion would trigger it. I felt like an idiot I would lay on the ground sometimes and somehow make it seem like it was normal. I eventually sought help when I was 24 and pregnant with my daughter… the symptoms worsened. I was put on imipramine and suggested modafianil (not sure how to spell), The thing is I didn’t believe in the drug companies and started to look for research. I can happily tell you I have no cataplexy any more…. well not completely gone… I take L Tyrosine now whenever I start to have ‘the feeling’ it’s coming back. I self medicate the symptoms disappear and I lead a normal life. My friends don’t even know I have anything wrong with me. Unless I tell them. Sleep is always a challenge for me but I choose to not take supplements more than I need too… the great thing about personal choice is… I have one. Good luck! L Tyrosine has to be taken very carefully or it does not work… I’ve tried many ways. But the best is with orange juice in the morning on an empty stomach, don’t take it with protein, it make symptoms worse. Do as the study says and perhaps it will work for you as well.


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