Narcolepsy cannot be cured, but its symptoms can be controlled so that people with it can lead fairly normal lives. Treatment depends on the child. Different children have different symptoms and respond differently to treatment. A combination of a variety of treatments is usually used including:
Sleep specialists can write prescriptions for medications that help control excessive daytime sleepiness, cataplexy and sleep disruption. We do not suggest using over-the-counter medications.
Adjustments in lifestyle can improve symptoms. Your sleep specialist may recommend that your child:
- Follow a strict sleep-wake schedule each day.
- Take short naps once or twice a day.
- Increase exercise; avoid boring or repetitive tasks.
- Be careful doing activities such as riding a bike, driving a car, or swimming.
- Create an individual health plan with teachers and school staff to provide academic support.
Narcolepsy can be difficult when family, friends and teachers do not understand it. Daytime sleepiness may be mistaken for laziness, boredom, or lack of ability. Cataplexy and hypnagogic hallucinations may be wrongly viewed as a mental illness. We recommend teaching family members and your child's friends and their parents about the disorder, what to expect and how to help your child. Most importantly, your child's teachers should understand it. Small adjustments in the classroom can make a big difference in your child's self-esteem and ability to get a good education.