- Unexpected attacks of sleep
- Sleep paralysis, where you can’t move or speak when you wake up or start falling asleep
- Hypnagogic hallucinations, where you might see, hear, or feel something that’s not there
- Cataplexy, where you might start slurring your speech or be unable to move even though you’re awake
As a result, narcolepsy can affect many different parts of your life, including the relationships you build.
How Narcolepsy Can Affect Relationships
Narcolepsy can be misunderstood by people who aren’t familiar with it. For example, people who don’t know about narcolepsy might see you as lazy, even though that’s not what’s happening.
Emmanuel Mignot, MD, PhD, the director of the Stanford Center for Narcolepsy, is recognized as having discovered the cause of narcolepsy. He says one of the biggest misconceptions about narcolepsy is that people think the condition is “dramatic,” like someone falling asleep while riding a bike.
“It’s not,” he says. “Having narcolepsy, you fall asleep when it’s boring. It’s an exacerbation of normal behavior.”
Erin Holtz, who was diagnosed with narcolepsy in 2015, says that media portrayals of narcolepsy are often misleading.
For example, Holtz says lots of people expect her symptoms to be binary, such has being awake or asleep or being able to stand versus collapsing. But in reality, the symptoms can be sneaky and vary wildly, making it even more difficult for friends and family to understand.
“Lots of folks Google cataplexy and they come away with the understanding that if I laugh I will instantly and completely collapse,” she says. “Cataplexy occurs in various states of severity. Sometimes I lose my gr...