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Narcolepsy is an autoimmune neurological sleep disorder affecting 1 in 2,000 people. Over 200,000 Americans and 3 million people worldwide have narcolepsy. Narcolepsy is not rare, but severely under-recognized and misdiagnosed as other disorders. It most often presents itself in childhood, adolescence or young adulthood, and lasts a lifetime. Narcolepsy’s effect on quality of life compares to Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy. There is currently no cure.
Narcolepsy is a serious and not common medical condition. It offers researchers a unique opportunity to learn about the central mechanisms of REM/dream sleep and alertness.
The four major symptoms associated with narcolepsy are: excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS), cataplexy (sudden episodes of muscle weakness triggered by emotion), hypnagogic and hypnopompic hallucinations (vivid dreams), and sleep paralysis. More about symptoms here.