What is cataplexy?

Cataplexy occurs when you have a sleep attack that is triggered by a strong emotion. This can happen when you are surprised, elated or even intimate with a partner. You may slur your speech or lose control of your limbs, or you may become completely paralyzed.

Narcolepsy with cataplexy is frequently linked to increased weight, sometimes obesity. It is possible to have narcolepsy along with another sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea or rapid eye movement (REM) sleep behavior disorder. 
Cataplexy is emotionally-triggered transient muscle weakness. Most episodes are triggered by strong, generally positive emotions such as laughter, joking, or excitement.
Cataplexy is characterized by sudden episodes of loss of muscle function. These can range from slight weakness (such as limpness at the neck or knees, sagging facial muscles or an inability to speak clearly) to complete body collapse. Attacks are typically triggered by sudden emotional reactions such as laughter, anger or fear, and may last from a few seconds to several minutes. Cataplexy is seen almost exclusively in people with narcolepsy.

Continue Learning about Narcolepsy

How does narcolepsy affect the body?
Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)
Narcolepsy can make you very tired during the day, and may cause you to fall asleep without warning ...
More Answers
Is narcolepsy serious?
Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)
Having narcolepsy is potentially serious. The condition itself will not harm you. But your work or...
More Answers
What are the symptoms of narcolepsy?
American Academy of Sleep MedicineAmerican Academy of Sleep Medicine
Symptoms of narcolepsy usually begin between the ages of 15 to 25, but they may start at a much youn...
More Answers
Can diet cause narcolepsy?
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MDDr. Mehmet Oz, MD
People with narcolepsy often tell me they feel overly sleepy after meals. What and how much you'...
More Answers

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.