Narcolepsy is a rare long-term brain condition that causes a person to suddenly fall asleep at inappropriate times.
The brain is unable to regulate sleeping and waking patterns, which can result in:
- Excessive daytime sleepiness- feeling very drowsy throughout the day and finding it difficult to concentrate and stay awake
- Sleep attacks – falling asleep suddenly and without warning
- Cataplexy – temporary loss of muscle control resulting in weakness and possible collapse, often in response to emotions such as laughter and anger
- Sleep paralysis – a temporary inability to move or speak when waking up or falling asleep
- Excessive dreaming and waking in the night – dreams often coming when falling asleep (hypnogogic hallucinations) or just before or during waking (hypnopompic hallucinations)
Narcolepsy is a fairly rare condition and many cases are thought to go unreported, but it’s estimated to affect about 30,000 people in the UK.