HCA UK's experts can help to diagnose and treat a range of sleep disorders, including narcolepsy.. Find out more.

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At HCA UK, our team of experts specialise in the diagnosis and treatment of a range of sleep disorders including narcolepsy (a rare long-term brain disorder that results in a person falling asleep suddenly without warning during the day).

Need to know

Narcolepsy occurs when the brain is unable to properly regulate sleeping and waking patterns. Although it does not cause long-term health problems, it can result in significant impacts on your daily life.

The exact cause of narcolepsy is often unclear, but it is thought to be the result of a lack of a brain chemical called hypocretin, also known as orexin, which regulates wakefulness.The most common symptoms are:

  • Extreme tiredness (fatigue) during the day
  • Suddenly falling asleep without warning (a sleep attack)
  • A temporary loss of muscle control as a result of laughter or anger (cataplexy)
  • The inability to move during sleep (sleep paralysis)

Your GP or consultant will discuss your narcolepsy symptoms with you. Tests they may recommend include:

  • Filling out an Epworth sleepiness scale questionnaire to determine how likely you are to fall asleep during different activities
  • Attending a specialist sleep clinic to assess the problems that you are having
  • Respiratory sleep study (to monitor your breathing, blood oxygen levels and heart rate)
  • Polysomnography (a sleep study that records your brain waves, blood oxygen levels, heart rate, breathing and eye and leg movements)
  • Electroencephalogram (EEG) to monitor brainwaves

Treatment options for your sleep disorder depend on the nature of your condition. Your GP or consultant may consider recommending:

  • Counselling such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to help you better manage unhelpful thoughts and habits relating to sleep
  • Advice on how to practice good sleeping habits such as taking brief, frequent naps during the day and sticking to a strict bedtime routine.
  • Medicines to stimulate your central nervous system and help you stay awake during the day

Our Narcolepsy locations

The Harley Street Clinic

The Harley Street Clinic

35 Weymouth Street W1G 8BJ London
The Lister Hospital

The Lister Hospital

Chelsea Bridge Road, SW1W 8RH London
The Shard Outpatients

The Shard Outpatients

The Shard, 32 St Thomas Street SE1 9BS London

Patient stories

This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.