Narcolepsy is a neurological sleep disorder characterized by overwhelming daytime sleepiness and sudden attacks of sleeps. 

Symptoms may include:

  • excessive daytime sleepiness
  • cataplexy (periodic inability to perform voluntary movements secondary to a sudden inhibition of muscle tone)
  • daytime microsleep attacks
  • hallucinations
  • sleep paralysis
  • disrupted nighttime sleep

Idiopathic Hypersomnia

With Idiopathic Hypersomnia, a person feels a constant need to sleep. They may able to refrain if they must. Some people may sleep an excessive amount at night and yet be difficult to waken. They may appear confused and disoriented upon awakening.  It is different from narcolepsy because it doesn't usually involve suddenly falling asleep or losing muscle tone due to strong emotions. Naps are not as refreshing as in Narcolepsy.

Both of these problems may be evaluated with a polysomnogram to rule out other sleep problems followed by a multiple sleep latency test (MSLT) which evaluates the sleepiness of the child. Treatments may consist of individualized medication management, scheduled naps and modifications of work/school schedules.