Every individual with narcolepsy is different and medications that work best for one individual may not work best for another. Speak with your doctor or healthcare professional about the options. Medications for narcolepsy can include, sodium oxybate (Xyrem), stimulants, antidepressants, and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin/norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). A list of medications for treating daytime sleepiness and cataplexy, from the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School is provided below.
What is Sleep Hygiene and Why is it Important?
Sleep hygiene is the practice of healthy sleep habits that optimize nighttime sleep quality. Getting quality sleep is fundamental to physical and mental health and improves productivity, alertness and quality of life.
For people with narcolepsy, sleep hygiene also includes scheduled day time naps as well as a carefully planned nighttime routine that may or may not include taking medications.
How to Improve Sleep Hygiene
Be consistent. Try going to bed and getting up at the same time throughout the week, over weekends and during the holidays. Having a consistent bedtime routine helps facilitate better quality sleep.
Avoid late night meals, exercise, caffeine, nicotine, and use of screens and electronic devices. Alcohol can make you drowsy but often acts as a stimulant during the second half of the night causing wakefulness. It is best to limit alcohol consumption and consume earlier in the evening.
Exercise daily exercise performed more than 3 hours before bedtime promotes better quality sleep. Cardiovascular activities such as swimming, cycling, walking and jogging if only for 20 minutes a day are ideal for inducing a good night’s sleep.
Rise. When it’s time to wake up, let in as much natural light as possible. Natural light assists internal regulation of our sleep-wake cycle so getting outdoors during the day is important too.
Create a bedroom environment that is conducive to a good night’s rest. A comfortable mattress in a dark room that is cool and quiet is optimal. Helpful sleep aids include blackout curtains, eye masks, weighted blankets, white noise machines and ear plugs. Remove all electronic devices from your bedroom and reserve the space for sleep and sex only.
Relax. Your pre-bedtime routine helps your body wind down and prepare for sleep. For some people this means taking a warm bath, listening to calming music, reading or yoga. To keep a consistent routine, set an alarm to remind you when to begin the wind down and commit to your wind down time.
Listen to your body. Scheduled daytime naps are effective ways recharging your energy level. Each person with narcolepsy requires a different nap duration and schedule although shorter naps are preferable.