#AlwaysSleepy: The Biggest Myths About Narcolepsy

Suddenly falling asleep mid-sentence, while driving or even passing out without warning is a common scene of comic relief in sitcoms, but for people living with narcolepsy in real life the condition is no laughing matter. The general insensitivity toward narcoleptics is likely due to not fully understanding what narcolepsy is…and believing what it is not.

“Narcolepsy effects people differently. So, everyone doesn’t manifest the same symptoms or even the same severity of symptoms,” Dr. Kyra Clark, a board-certified expert in sleep medicine and Medical Director of Sleep Diagnostics at Morehouse School of Medicine, told BlackDoctor.org.

It’s time to stop living in the fog about narcolepsy. Below we dispel some of the biggest narcolepsy myths.


Myth: Narcolepsy is one-size-fits-all.  

Narcolepsy, a chronic sleep disorder, occurs in two forms: type 1 with cataplexy and type 2 without cataplexy. Cataplexy is “an episode in which strong emotion causes a sudden loss of muscle tone,” states the Narcolepsy Network. People may experience a sudden slack jack or buckled knees; a cataplexy attack may also have more severe effects like a full body collapse. However, not everyone who lives with narcolepsy experiences cataplexy.

Myth: Narcolepsy is a very rare condition. 

It may not be discussed often, but more people than you may think live with it every day. According to experts, it affects an estimated 1 in every 2,000 people in the United States. That’s 200,000 Americans, and approximately 3 million people worldwide. Unfortunately, only about 25 percent of sufferers have been diagnosed and are receiving treatment.