Excessive daytime sleepiness during the day and wakefulness at night can indicate more than a sleep disorder. Narcolepsy is a neurological disorder that, depending on its severity, can greatly impact work, school, social activities, and overall health. Unlike insomnia, people with narcolepsy fall asleep easily at bedtime but can’t stay asleep for several hours. During the day, they fall asleep at inappropriate times. Knowing more about narcolepsy can help distinguish it from other sleep disorders.
Information. In a normal sleep cycle, the early stages of sleep are followed by deeper sleep stages leading to rapid eye movement or REM sleep. The stages take about 90 minutes. For those with narcolepsy, REM sleep comes within 15 minutes of the sleep cycle and can occur during waking hours. It can occur with or without brief attacks of muscle weakness known as cataplexy. Other symptoms include sleep paralysis and hallucinations upon falling asleep or awakening. Keep in mind that many people occasionally experience sleep paralysis, and this symptom alone does not necessarily indicate narcolepsy.