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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What is happening to someone during a narcoleptic attack?

    I work in human resources of a small company and one of the employees suffers from narcolepsy. What should i expect in the event of an attack? Is there anything i need to do to help?
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  • The Sleep Health Foundation is dedicated to raising awareness of the importance of ‘valuing sleep’ as part of a healthy lifestyle alongside regular exercise, a … View Profile

    People with narcolepsy have 2 different kinds of ‘attacks’. 
    One is suddenly going to sleep, with only a short warning before hand. Usually with this type of ‘attack’ those with narcolepsy get enough warning to sit down or lay down and will then go to sleep, and look like they are asleep. Often they will not sleep for long. In this situation the main thing is to make sure they are in a safe place, and if not it is safe to wake them and move them to a safe position. 
    The second type of ‘attack’ that can happen with narcolepsy is a sudden loss of muscle tone. Usually this is just one part of the body, such as one side of the face, or an arm or leg that goes weak. However, for some people with narcolepsy they can lose muscle tone in all their muscles and fall to the ground. This type of ‘attack’ can be brought on by strong emotion such as laughing with friends, having an argument, getting a surprise, or when people with narcolepsy are unwell or over-tired. They may look like they are asleep, but are often conscious and can remember what happened during these attacks, that generally only last a few minutes. In this situation, again make sure they are in a safe place, and if not stay with them until the muscle strength returns, usually only a couple of minutes, then help them to somewhere safe.
    For more information on narcolepsy click here

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