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by Carson-DeWitt R

Lifestyle Changes to Manage Narcolepsy

Most people with narcolepsy find that certain lifestyle changes can help them improve their daytime alertness.

General Guidelines for Managing Narcolepsy

Get Sufficient Nighttime Sleep
It’s important for you to regulate your sleep in order to increase your alertness during the day. Try to get about 8 hours of sleep each night.
Take Planned Naps During the Day
Scheduling regular naps can help you remain alert. Some people find that 2-3 short (10-15 minute) naps scheduled throughout the day are helpful. Others find that one longer afternoon nap refreshes them enough to finish their day with minimal sleepiness. Try each of these methods to see which works better for you.
Avoid Substances That Can Interfere With Alertness or Refreshing Sleep
Be careful when drinking caffeinated beverages or alcohol, or using nicotine products. Alcohol can increase your drowsiness and can interfere with getting a good night of sleep. Nicotine and caffeine are stimulants and may interfere with getting refreshing sleep at night or during daytime naps.
Exercise Regularly
Exercise can increase your energy level and improve your alertness during the day. However, do not exercise within three hours before bedtime. Exercise can boost your energy to the degree that it prevents you from falling asleep.
Before starting an exercise program, check with your doctor about any possible medical problems you may have that may interfere.


Narcolepsy. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated January 4, 2016. Accessed May 18, 2016.
Narcolepsy. American Sleep Association website. Available at: https://www.sleepassociation.org/patients-general-public/narcolepsy. Updated September 2007. Accessed May 18, 2016.
Narcolepsy fact sheet. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/narcolepsy/detail%5Fnarcolepsy.htm. Updated April 6, 2016. Accessed May 18, 2016.

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