For most people, sleep happens in cycles. We start with a light stage of sleep and progress into deeper stages. After about 90 minutes of sleep, we enter the first stage of REM (rapid eye movement sleep) which is the dreaming portion of sleep. We alternate between stages of REM and non-REM sleep throughout the night. For those with Narcolepsy, sleep begins almost immediately with REM sleep, and can occur involuntarily throughout waking hours. Because the episodes of involuntary sleep can occur at any time, people with this disorder may fall asleep during normal activities such as sitting while working at their desk, carrying on a conversation, or even while driving. The most common symptom of Narcolepsy is excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) which affects normal activities on a daily basis whether or not the person has had a sufficient amount of sleep. EDS has been described as a constant sense of mental cloudiness, a lack of energy, a depressed mood, or exhaustion. Many people affected by EDS say they have difficulty concentrating at work or school, while others may experience some memory lapses. Most people with Narcolepsy do not seek treatment early on because sleepiness does not typically point to disease for most people. Narcolepsy is a chronic condition. There’s currently no cure for this condition, however medications and lifestyle changes can help manage the symptoms. If lack of sleep is affecting your life, you may benefit from a diagnostic sleep study. Consult your physician, or call to make an appointment with the UMMC North Sleep Center for diagnostic and treatment options (281) 453-7110.