What Is Narcolepsy?

Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder that is characterized by excessive sleepiness, sleep attacks, sleep paralysis, hallucinations, and even sudden loss of muscle control also called cataplexy. It is uncommon, only affecting one in 2,000 to 3,000 people. Narcolepsy is typically diagnosed in individuals between the ages of 15 and 25 but can go undiagnosed for many years.

For people with narcolepsy, the boundaries between sleep and wakefulness are blurred, which causes them to feel very sleepy and fatigued during the day, have vivid dream-like hallucinations and paralysis while falling asleep or waking up, and experience overall disruptive nighttime sleep. 

What Are the Common Narcolepsy Symptoms?

In understanding more about the sleep disorder, it’s also essential to become familiar with narcolepsy symptoms so that you can seek professional treatment. The following are common narcolepsy symptoms:

Excessive Daytime Sleepiness

Falling asleep without warning is one of the most common narcolepsy symptoms. Individuals may be talking or eating and suddenly nod off. After awakening, they feel refreshed but eventually become sleepy again.

Sudden Loss of Muscle Tone

This condition, cataplexy, can cause slurred speech or complete weakness of most muscles. It can last up to a few minutes, is uncontrollable and usually triggered by intense emotions.

Sleep Paralysis

People with narcolepsy often experience a temporary inability to move or speak while falling asleep or upon waking. These episodes are typically brief but frightening.

Affected REM Sleep

For people with narcolepsy, REM, rapid eye movement, sleep can occur at any time of the day. It’s common for them to transition quickly to REM sleep sometimes within 15 minutes of falling asleep.


Narcolepsy sufferers experience hypnagogic also known as hallucinations occurring as they fall asleep and hypnopompic which are hallucinations occurring upon waking. They may see a stranger in their bedroom or other vivid and frightening images.

Jacksonville Sleep Center

Addressing a sleep disorder with your physician can go a long way to improving your quality of life. At the Jacksonville Sleep Center, we offer the latest options for sleep assessment and treatment, and we specialize in helping patients across Northeast Florida get the great sleep they need! If you are experiencing narcolepsy symptoms, our physicians and team of specialists would love to see how we can help. Contact us today to learn more and set up an assessment!