Narcolepsy Specialist

Sonoran Sleep Center

Sleep Medicine & Sleep Labs located in Glendale, AZ

Narcolepsy is a relatively rare sleep disorder that affects about 1 in 2,000 people. It causes you to feel incredibly drowsy or suddenly fall asleep. At Sonoran Sleep Center, board-certified sleep medicine doctor Sarah Patel, MD, knows how to identify and treat narcolepsy using a combination of healthy lifestyle changes, stress management, and medication. If you’re tired of feeling tired, make an appointment in Glendale, Arizona, by calling the office or booking online today.

Narcolepsy Q&A

What is narcolepsy?

Narcolepsy is a chronic condition that causes you to fall asleep suddenly or feel very tired. There are two types of narcolepsy: type 1 narcolepsy and type 2 narcolepsy. Type 1 narcolepsy occurs alongside a sudden loss of muscle tone (cataplexy) while type 2 narcolepsy more commonly causes sleep-related symptoms.

What are the symptoms of narcolepsy and hypersomnia?

Symptoms of narcolepsy include:

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Unintentional napping 
  • Sudden loss of muscle tone when laughing or with anger
  • Sleep paralysis

If you have narcolepsy, you’re may experience hallucinations when falling asleep or waking up. For example, you may see strange shadows on the wall (shadows may appear like people) watching you.

Symptoms of hypersomnia include:

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Naps are not refreshing
  • Symptoms of sleep inertia (sleep drunkenness)

If you have hypersomnia, you may experience excessive daytime sleepiness. Unlike in patients with narcolepsy, naps are not refreshing.

What causes narcolepsy and hypersomnia?

The underlying cause of narcolepsy is unknown. That said, people with type 1 narcolepsy have low levels of hypocretin, a neurochemical that helps regulate REM sleep and wakefulness.

It’s also likely that genetics play a role in the development of narcolepsy. But the risk of a parent passing this disorder to a child is very low — only about 1 percent.

Other forms of excessive daytime sleepiness, such asCentral Nervous System (CNS) hypersomnia can occur in people who suffer from:

  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
  • Parkinsons dementia
  • Lewy Body dementia (LBD)
  • Muscular dystrophy (MD)
  • Lesions or tumors of the hypothalamus
  • Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS)

CNS can affect people of all ages and may be associated with disorders as listed above.

How is narcolepsy diagnosed?

At Sonoran Sleep Center, Dr. Patel diagnoses narcolepsy through sleep studies. Depending on your age, symptoms, and medical history, she might recommend:


Polysomnography uses electrodes to monitor your brain, heart, and breathing during sleep. It also tracks the movements of your muscles and eyes. 

Multiple sleep latency test

A multiple sleep latency test occurs in the daytime. During this test, Dr. Patel measures how long it takes you to fall asleep for a nap and how quickly you go into dream (REM) sleep. She asks you to take four or five naps, about two hours apart. 

As you fall asleep, Dr. Patel monitors your sleep patterns. If you fall asleep easily or enter REM sleep quickly, you probably have narcolepsy.

How are narcolepsy and hypersomnia treated?

Treatment of narcolepsy typically includes healthy lifestyle changes and prescription medication. For example, Dr. Patel might recommend going to bed at the same time each night, exercising regularly, and avoiding alcohol and nicotine.

There are various drugs used to treat narcolepsy. Depending on the type you have and the severity of your symptoms, Dr. Patel might recommend medications along with lifestyle modifications to improve symptoms of narcolepsy.

To explore the different treatment options for narcolepsy and hypersomnia, make an appointment at Sonoran Sleep Center by calling the office or booking online today.