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Get treatment for narcolepsy

Our sleep medicine specialists can help you understand your narcolepsy and find a treatment that works for you.

What is narcolepsy?

Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder that can cause an uncontrollable desire for sleep during the day and sudden sleep attacks. People who have narcolepsy typically begin experiencing symptoms as children, but it can develop later in life.

In addition to the daytime sleepiness those with narcolepsy experience, other symptoms can include:

  • Sleep paralysis when falling asleep or waking up
  • Cataplexy (sudden loss of muscle control)
  • Hallucinations
  • Insomnia

The most common symptom of narcolepsy is excessive daytime sleepiness. Although there’s no cure for narcolepsy, a combination of treatments can help control symptoms and allow people with narcolepsy to enjoy normal activities.

Narcolepsy risk factors

Certain behaviors, genetics and risk factors can increase your chances of developing narcolepsy. These include:

  • Family history: While most people who develop narcolepsy don’t have a family history, narcolepsy can be passed down within a family.
  • Brain injuries: Brain and head injuries can impact your sleep habits and patterns. Head trauma can result in temporary narcolepsy.
  • Other risk factors: Environmental factors such as exposure to certain kinds of toxins or a body’s reaction to a common virus can cause narcolepsy. Other risk factors for narcolepsy include certain autoimmune diseases, stroke and tumors.

Diagnosing narcolepsy

Our team of sleep medicine specialists are experienced in treating and diagnosing narcolepsy. Tests to diagnose this sleep disorder may include:

  • Sleep study – A sleep study may be performed to diagnose narcolepsy or to rule out other sleep disorders. Sleep studies are done at specialized sleep centers where body functions can be monitored while the patient sleeps. A home sleep test may also help to determine whether you have narcolepsy or another sleep disorder.
  • Multiple sleep latency test (MSLT) – This test is conducted during the day after a sleep study has been completed. It allows your doctor to examine your sleep quality and measure your sleepiness throughout the day. As part of this test, you are asked to take naps five times throughout the day every two hours.
  • Genetic testing – Genetic testing may be able to provide insight as to whether you’re suffering from narcolepsy.
  • Hypocretin (orexin) measurement – Some people who have narcolepsy may be deficient in the sleep-regulating chemical hypocretin, also known as orexin. To measure your level of hypocretin, a sample of cerebrospinal fluid is taken.

Talk to our team today to schedule an appointment

Call 800-275-6401 and say “sleep services.”
Call for an appointment

Narcolepsy treatment

At Geisinger, our dedicated, highly trained team of sleep medicine specialists will quickly assess your sleep disorder.

Lifestyle changes

Staying active and maintaining good sleep habits can help you manage your narcolepsy. For example, sitting for long periods can cause sleepiness, but taking walks and adding in periodic movement can help keep you awake.

Also, practicing good sleep habits — including keeping a regular bedtime, removing electronic devices from your room and keeping your room cool and dark — can help you sleep at night. Sleeping better at night will help keep narcolepsy under control during the day.


In addition to practicing lifestyle changes, your doctor may prescribe medications to treat your sleep disorder. Medications for narcolepsy can help you stay alert during the day, while others can help you sleep better at night.

Whether you speak with a therapist of join a narcolepsy support group, you aren’t in this alone. Speak with your doctor about counseling options if you’re experiencing anxiety, isolation or self-esteem issues.

Sleep medicine services at Geisinger

Whether you have a simple or complex sleep disorder, we’re dedicated to getting you the treatment you need to sleep better. We offer:

  • The knowledge you need – Your sleep medicine team includes doctors and specialists with years of training and experience. Their expertise has been honed by treating many people with sleep apnea every year. Their focus is on delivering the care best suited to your needs.
  • Care designed for you, where you live – With locations throughout northeast, central and south-central Pennsylvania, our experienced team provides consultations and comprehensive care. We offer leading-edge treatment options and tailored-to-you care, backed by the expertise and innovation of a nationally recognized health system.
  • Accredited sleep centers – Our sleep centers are accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine for in-center and in-home sleep testing as well as for durable home medical equipment distribution (CPAP or BiPAP therapy and supplies).
  • Sleep testing designed with you in mind – Our sleep centers feature comfortable, private bedrooms that help people feel relaxed and at home. Depending on your condition, we also offer unattended home sleep testing that can be performed within 24 hours of clinical evaluation by one of our sleep specialists.
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