How can I cope with narcolepsy?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
If you've been diagnosed with narcolepsy, I'm going to ask you to make some changes.

1. Tell the people who need to know. Your teachers. Your coworkers. Your boss. Explain your situation and your needs, and emphasize that you still aim to be a responsible fully accountable person. Most people understand, once they know what's going on, and will even be helpful.

2. Schedule your day so you can take a 10- to 15-minute nap after breakfast and lunch. If you're at work or school, escape to a designated office, under a tree, or in your car (if it's in a safe spot).

3. Eat light during the day. Switch to low carbohydrates, low fat meals. Vegetarian meals are great. Avoiding heavy, high-fat meals will help you stay alert. In the evening, eat your normal fare.

4. Consider getting an assistance dog. An assistance dog can nudge you awake, especially if there's danger, and protect you if you have a cataplexy (sudden muscle tone loss) attack in public.

5. Join a support group online. You may be surprised how many people experience the same types of situations you do, and have found tricks to avoiding them.

6. Practice good ol' regular sleep habits. That means no caffeine, alcohol or exercise several hours before bed. But do get regular exercise. Don't smoke. Go to bed before 11 p.m., and at the same time each night. And make your sleeping environment dark, quiet, comfy and safe.

Take on one thing at a time over the next three months. By the end of 90 days, you'll find these habits are a natural part of your life.
Your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes to help you manage the symptoms of narcolepsy. You will need to keep a consistent sleep schedule by going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day, including weekends. If possible, schedule short, 20-minute naps throughout the day. To increase your energy through the day, try to get regular exercise and avoid using tobacco, alcohol or drugs.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.