Sleep Disorders

What is narcolepsy?

Narcolepsy is a relatively rare condition which causes severe daytime sleepiness, characterised by sudden attacks of sleep or muscle weakness (cataplexy), vivid dreams or hallucinations, and sleep paralysis. It affects approximately 0.05% of the population, and the origin of the condition is unknown.


You should be checked for narcolepsy if:

  • You often feel excessively and overwhelmingly sleepy during the day even after having had a full night’s sleep
  • You fall asleep when you do not intend to, such as while having dinner, talking, driving, or working
  • You collapse suddenly or your neck muscles feel too weak to hold up your head when you laugh or become angry, surprised, or shocked
  • You find yourself briefly unable to talk or move while falling asleep or waking up

Narcolepsy can occur in both men and women at any age, although its symptoms are usually first noticed in teenagers or young adults. Although there is no cure for narcolepsy, treatment options are available to help reduce the various symptoms. Treatment is individualized depending on the severity of the symptoms, but it may take weeks or months for an optimal regimen to be worked out.

If you believe that you have a sleep disorder such as Narcolepsy, make an appointment to see your General Practitioner, who may refer you to Sleep SA for a sleep study.