How is narcolepsy treated?
There is no cure for narcolepsy. It is a life-long condition, but there is help for a person with this condition to have a good and productive life. Symptoms can be controlled with medicine and lifestyle changes. Extreme daytime sleepiness can be treated with stimulant drugs (or drugs that keep you awake) such as modafinil (Provigil). Caffeine and over-the-counter stimulants do not work to reduce daytime sleepiness. Antidepressants are sometimes used to treat cataplexy, hypnagogic hallucinations, and sleep paralysis.
People with narcolepsy who have other health conditions, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart disease, should talk with their doctor about other medicines they are taking. Some over-the-counter and prescription drugs may interact with those drugs taken for narcolepsy.
Changes in lifestyle can help to treat and control narcolepsy. Taking daytime naps and developing good sleep habits are important. Taking short naps (10 to 15 minutes) 2 to 3 times a day can help control extreme daytime sleepiness and sleep attacks. Having good sleep habits helps a person to get good quality nighttime sleep. What helps is to: not have caffeine or alcohol and not smoke in the late afternoon or evening; get regular exercise, but don’t exercise up to 3 hours before you go to bed; don’t use your bed for anything but sleeping, and get enough sleep (around 8 hours) every night.
If you have narcolepsy, it is important to talk on a regular basis with your health care provider. This will help you to get the best treatment possible for your symptoms.