Narcolepsy is a neurological sleep disorder that causes excessive daytime sleepiness and frequent sleep attacks. These attacks can occur while a person is driving. The sleep pattern of a narcoleptic is irregular at night and during the day. Narcoleptics typically fall into deep sleep within 10 minutes as compared to the average person who falls into deep sleep after 90 minutes. A medical exam will be performed to rule out other sleep disorders, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, psychiatric and/or any neurological disorders.
Once a medical exam and history have been completed, an overnight sleep study is done to rule out other sleep disorders such as sleep apnea and periodic limb movements disorder. If no other sleep disorder is present, a series of 5 naps with 1.5 to 2 hours of wake time between each nap called the multi-sleep latency test (MSLT) is used to diagnose narcolepsy. This test is reviewed by a physician with a specialty in sleep medicine who interprets and makes recommendations for patients.