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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 eight hours of sleep each night.

Take Planned Naps during the Day

Scheduling regular naps can help you remain alert. Some people find that two to three 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.

References:

Narcolepsy. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated March 6, 2013. Accessed June 3, 2013.

Narcolepsy fact sheet. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. National Institutes of Health website. Available at: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/narcolepsy/detail_narcolepsy.htm. Updated December 28, 2011. Accessed June 3, 2013.

What is narcolepsy? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. National Institutes of Health website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/nar/nar_what.html. Updated November 1, 2010. Accessed June 3, 2013.



Last reviewed May 2014 by Marcin Chwistek, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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