Is narcolepsy real?

My friend is always tired and falls asleep in class all the time. He says that he has narcolepsy but he has never been to a doctor about it. Is narcolepsy a real disorder or is he just using this as an excuse? Are there any symptoms of narcolepsy besides falling asleep all the time?

Doctors Answers (3)

J. Douglas Hudson, MD, DABSM
Answered on: 9/17/2013

Narcolepsy is very real. It is often disabling if not treated. Treatment is available and should not be delayed. Narcolepsy is a recognized disability. Other symptoms of narcolepsy are multiple. These include cataplexy which is muscle weakness in any part of the body secondary to the intrusion of REM sleep while awake. (Our body is normally paralyzed during REM sleep). Other symptoms include vivid dreams upon awakening, restless legs especially while asleep, body paralysis whole awake and sleep walking. As narcolepsy may be an autoimmune disorder, it is not uncommon for persons with narcolepsy to suffer from other autoimmune disorders. These may include rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia and lupus.

Vector Sleep Diagnostics Center
Answered on: 9/17/2013

Narcolepsy is a very real sleep disorder. It has specific symptoms, and there are several diagnostic criteria- that include symptoms and specific tests to diagnose this condition. Other symptoms of narcolepsy include sleep paralysis, cataplexy (loss of muscle tone related to emotions- head drops and drop attacks) and some others. I can not tell if your friend has this condition but he is affected by it significantly. The best advise to your friend- go and see a specialist to make the correct diagnosis. Best of luck.

Robert C. Jones, M.D.
Answered on: 9/12/2013

Narcolepsy is a real and sometimes serious condition. It is much more complicated than just feeling fatigued during the day and nodding off during class. There may not be any other symptoms aside from frequent episodes of random sleep onset periods during the day. For proper diagnosis and treatment consideration, an evaluation by a sleep disorder specialist is recommended.