Living & Managing
The symptoms of narcolepsy can interfere with relationships, work, school, and daily life. For example,
- Forgetting details or having automatic behaviors you don’t remember later
- Losing track or tuning out during a conversation because you are sleepy
- Falling asleep at awkward or dangerous times
- Difficulty paying attention in meetings, during class, or at events
- Creating a safety risk due to cataplexy episodes
- Feeling embarrassed or worried about your behavior
To vastly improve the quality of your life, consider implementing coping strategies such as,
- Explain narcolepsy to friends, family, and co-workers if appropriate. Use a clear and accurate description of the disorder and symptoms. Educating them will increase their empathy and support for you.
- Be flexible about social engagements and plans, knowing when you need to take a break and be okay with changing plans so you can take care of yourself.
- Take short naps during the day. Experiment with naps and see if, when, and for how long they make you feel alert.
- Get to know your triggers for intense sleepiness and cataplexy.
- Pay attention to how medications affect your symptoms, including what time you take those medications and how that works for you.
- Note what kinds of foods and regular exercises make you feel more alert.
- Practice good sleep habits: avoid caffeinated beverages late in the day; have a short, consistent bedtime routine; keep a regular bedtime and wake up time when possible; do not use electronics close to bedtime; keep your bedroom cool, quiet and dark.
- Find a support group for people with narcolepsy. Narcolepsy can be isolating. Learning from others is very helpful and will make you feel connected.