Living & Managing


Living & Managing

This content was created by the National Sleep Foundation

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.

Check out the narcolepsy patient forum on PatientsLikeMe.