Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder that affects adults and children. For a child with narcolepsy, the impact of recurring symptoms can alter their life.
At Stat Care Pulmonary and Sleep, we offer diagnostic sleep testing on-site to confirm narcolepsy as the cause of troublesome symptoms like falling asleep in the middle of dinner.
Our sleep experts Ashok Tyagi, DO, CPE, and Himanshu Chandarana, MD, can design a treatment plan to help manage your child’s symptoms.
We also provide resources to support a child with narcolepsy and ensure they enjoy a happy, healthy life.
What to know about narcolepsy in kids
Narcolepsy is a relatively uncommon sleep disorder that may be triggered by dysfunction in the central nervous system. This system is responsible for controlling cycles of wakefulness and sleep. When it’s not functioning as it should, it can trigger sleep attacks.
Sleep attacks describe episodes of falling asleep at unusual or potentially harmful times. For instance, adults with narcolepsy can fall asleep while driving a car. Your body reacts during a sleep attack much like it does during sleep — losing muscle tone and experiencing dreams.
Narcolepsy can run in families, but the condition in no way points to underlying psychological or psychiatric issues.
Recognizing signs of narcolepsy
Narcolepsy symptoms can develop gradually over several years or appear all at once. In addition to sudden sleep attacks, narcolepsy can cause symptoms like:
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Loss of muscle control (cataplexy)
- Inability to move or speak upon waking (sleep paralysis)
- Difficulties staying asleep through the night
In children, narcolepsy symptoms can significantly affect their success in school, at home, and in social situations because of memory issues, difficulties concentrating, and lethargy.
Children may also be affected by physical symptoms like headaches, double or blurred vision, and dizziness.
Tips for supporting a child with narcolepsy
First and foremost, if your child needs medication, follow our providers’ guidance for when to take it and what dosage to use.
Other strategies to support a child with narcolepsy include:
One of the biggest issues for a child with narcolepsy concerns other people’s understanding of the condition. Without the proper education, your child’s friends, teachers, and caregivers may perceive your child as lazy or bored.
Our providers make narcolepsy education accessible for you, your family members, and others involved in your child’s life.
Supervise potentially dangerous activities
Staying active is important for kids with narcolepsy. However, they should always have someone close by when swimming, baking cookies, playing outside, and engaging in other physical activities to make sure they don’t hurt themselves or others.
Be strict about sleep routines
Children with narcolepsy need to follow a strict schedule for sleeping and waking up. Create and stick to a routine where your child goes to bed and gets up at the same time every day, even on weekends.
Make sure they don’t have access to a television or other electronics that can interfere with falling or staying asleep.
If you need assistance helping your child manage symptoms of narcolepsy, call Stat Care Pulmonary and Sleep in St. Petersburg, Florida, today to schedule a consultation.