lifestyle changes

There are number of life style changes which have been found to assist manage the symptoms of narcolepsy with varying degrees of success.  These life style changes, combined with medical treatment under the care of your specialist, can form an overall approach for the management of the symptoms of narcolepsy.

We are learning more and more about the importance of gut health in relation to autoimmune conditions.

There have been reported cases of low carb diets – including the Keto diet - reducing the symptoms of narcolepsy amongst people with narcolepsy. To date, there has been no published study on the effectiveness of low carb diets. 

Other tips include:

  • Eating smaller more frequent meals throughout the day to reduce the effects of eating on drowsiness

  • Avoid alcohol. Alcohol is found to be disruptive to normal sleep patterns and to reduce quality of sleep overall.

  • Avoid caffeine. Caffeine interferes with normal sleep patterns. It can lead to more wakefulness at night and therefore drowsiness during the day.

  • Reduce grains and processed foods. Anything high in refined sugar will lead to peaks and dips in glucose levels effecting energy and wakefulness.

  • Avoid heavy meals before bedtime. Eating a large meal before bedtime can disrupt the falling asleep process.

  • Maintaining a healthy weight. People with narcolepsy tend to be more likely to become obese than people without. This is partly due to tendencies to seek out energy in high carb foods and partly because reduced hypocretin levels has an impact on ability to regulate appetite. Increased weight can have an impact on sleep quality, including in some cases, development of sleep apnea.

While maintaining a healthy body is a benefit to people with and without narcolepsy, there have been reports of increased wakefulness and a reduction in cataplectic episodes for people with narcolepsy who engage in regular cardiovascular exercises.

Regular exercise

  • Is linked to an improved quality of sleep.

  • Helps to increase alertness and wakefulness

  • Increases the production of dopamine and is linked to positive mental health.

  • Helps to control weigh gain which is common in people with narcolepsy

Sleep Hygiene
Developing and maintaining good sleep hygiene practices can increase amount and quality of sleep for a person with narcolepsy. It may take some refinement to establish a pattern that works for you, but good sleep hygiene tips include:

  • Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day in order to help regulate your sleep- wake cycle.

  • Avoiding alcohol, caffeine and heavy meals for several hours before bedtime.

  • Creating a comfortable sleep environment, dark, warm, comfortable, quiet.

  • Planning naps of short duration – 15 – 30 minutes and intervals during the day, can be refreshing and lead to increased alertness.