National Sleep Foundation

Chapter 4: Primary Hypersomnias

Treatment: Non-pharmacologic Treatment

Patients with narcolepsy are advised to practice good sleep health, which includes avoiding sleep deprivation and shift work, and to follow a regular sleep schedule.55  They function best in highly stimulating environments and should avoid jobs that require long periods of waiting or passivity.

Behavioral therapies may help control narcoleptic symptoms, including taking three or more scheduled naps during the day. In severe cases, patients with narcolepsy must be allowed to take scheduled daytime naps to restore their performance, especially if they plan to drive.56  Patients are also advised to avoid heavy meals and alcohol, both of which can disturb and/or induce sleep.57

Counseling is another important component of treatment, as many narcoleptic patients feel uncomfortable, alienated, and/or depressed. The disease can also be quite frightening and the fear of falling asleep inappropriately often significantly alters life for people with narcolepsy.58

References

  1. Stepanski EJ and Wyatt JK. Use of sleep hygiene in the treatment of insomnia. Sleep Med Rev. 2003;7:215-225.
  2. Mullington J, Broughton R. Scheduled naps in the management of daytime sleepiness in narcolepsy-cataplexy. Sleep. 1993;16:444-456.
  3. National Sleep Foundation, “Sleep Related Problems: Narcolepsy and Sleep,” Arlington, VA: NSF, no date. Online at: sleepfoundation.org.
  4. National Sleep Foundation, “Sleep Related Problems: Narcolepsy and Sleep,” Arlington, VA: NSF, no date. Online at: sleepfoundation.org.