The 10 Most Common Mistakes People Make When Talking to Someone With Narcolepsy


As a person with narcolepsy, I often get worried when people ask me questions about my condition. Because of that, I decided to write down some things that most people do not know about narcolepsy and how to talk about it without offending us or making us feel bad.

Mistake 1. You assume we are lazy.

  • You assume we are lazy.

Narcolepsy is a neurological disorder that causes the brain to send abnormal signals to the body when it needs rest. It’s not something a person can control, and it can cause severe exhaustion and sleepiness during normal activities. It may seem like we’re just being lazy when we fall asleep in class or on the bus, but narcoleptic people have difficulty staying awake even when they want to stay awake. This can lead them to doze off in the middle of tasks that require focus and concentration, whether that be listening to someone speak or studying for an exam.

  • You tell us how long your cat naps every day because you think that this will help us feel better about ourselves as humans (it won’t).

It’s common knowledge among those who don’t know much about narcolepsy that cats sleep 16 hours per day—but this isn’t true! In fact, cats only sleep 11-14 hours per day on average, which still puts them ahead of most humans in terms of sleeping habits! I’m sure many people reading this article would love nothing more than for their narcoleptic friend’s eyesight problems were due entirely from screen time instead of having another condition causing their sight loss altogether… but unfortunately these things just aren’t possible in most cases so please stop bringing up your cat’s sleeping habits as if they’ll make our lives any easier than they already are

Mistake 2. You keep repeating your question to ask if we are listening.

It is rude to keep repeating your question, especially when the person with narcolepsy has told you that they are having trouble hearing. The first time someone says they have difficulty following what someone is saying, it’s best to just move on and ask another question. If a person can’t repeat something perfectly when asked again and again, then they probably never could. It’s hard enough for us to remember what we’ve been told at times, so by asking the same question over and over again, it makes our memory worse!

Mistake 3. You frown and say “How rude” when we fall asleep in front of you while you were talking.

  • You frown and say “How rude” when we fall asleep in front of you while you were talking.

If this happens, it isn’t your fault, but rather a symptom of narcolepsy. It can be very frustrating to feel like your body is betraying you by not being able to stay awake for long periods of time or even shutting down for short periods during the day. However, this is not an indication that either one of us is rude or disrespectful; it just means that I have narcolepsy and my brain doesn’t work how yours does. So if this happens (and it may), try not to get upset about it—it’s not personal!

Mistake 4. You see us taking a nap and ask if everything is OK with us.

Narcolepsy is a neurological disorder. It cannot, therefore, be caused by psychological problems or lifestyle choices. It’s not contagious and there’s no cure for it (although medical research is ongoing). So please don’t ask if everything is OK with us—we’re fine!

If you have any further questions about narcolepsy, please contact your doctor or consult the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website: http://www.ninds .nih .gov/disorders/narcolepsy

Mistake 5. You ask if narcolepsy is contagious or genetic.

It’s normal to wonder if you can catch narcolepsy from someone. After all, it seems like a pretty bizarre thing to have happen to you—and if you could catch it, you might want to know in advance so that you can take precautions.

But here’s the deal: narcolepsy is not contagious (nor is it genetic). It’s a neurological disorder that affects the brain and nervous system, resulting in symptoms like excessive daytime sleepiness and cataplexy (a sudden loss of muscle tone). Narcolepsy has several potential causes, including genetics and brain injury from trauma or illness.

Mistake 6. You think we are faking it, just to get attention or get out of something unpleasant/boring/unwanted.

One of the most common misconceptions people have about narcolepsy is that it’s a psychological disorder. It isn’t. Narcolepsy is not an illness you can “get over,” nor is it something you can choose to ignore or suppress. If you think someone with narcolepsy is faking it in order to get attention or get out of something unpleasant/boring/unwanted, then you are wrong—and ignorant.

Narcolepsy is a real medical condition; one that affects millions of people worldwide and requires lifelong management. This does not mean that anyone who has narcolepsy needs medication for life—that’s another common misconception—but should be aware of their options if their symptoms begin interfering with their daily lives or work environment (which may require some adjustments on their part).

Mistake 7. You automatically blame narcolepsy for all symptoms, without asking any other details about our medical history and the possibility of having other conditions too (that can also cause some of the symptoms) and without looking at the whole picture before jumping to a conclusion that this is caused by narcolepsy only.

Narcolepsy is a neurological disorder that causes issues with excessive daytime sleepiness, cataplexy (sudden loss of muscle tone), hypnagogic hallucinations (vivid dreams at the onset of sleep), and disrupted nighttime sleep. If you have narcolepsy and someone assumes you’re just lazy or tired, let them know that narcolepsy is not a mental illness—it’s actually a neurological condition!

It’s also important to point out that there’s no clear cause for narcolepsy, but it’s known that genetics play a role in its development. Additionally, there are other conditions which may contribute to the development of narcolepsy:

  • REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD): This disorder makes people physically act out their dreams during their sleep cycle—often resulting in injury!
  • Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA): This condition causes one to stop breathing while sleeping due to blockages in the upper airway; these blockages can be caused by enlarged tonsils or adenoids or simply an oversized tongue blocking off your windpipe.

Mistake 8.Worrying about all the possible dangers that could happen to us, like falling from heights during hypnagogic/hypnopompic hallucinations or falling down during cataplexy, without realizing that our body knows how to protect itself (like how in a reflex action, our body will try not to fall down, even though it can’t control the legs anymore).

When someone with narcolepsy experiences a hypnagogic/hypnopompic hallucination or cataplexy, it can be scary. But as scary as these episodes of sleep paralysis and sudden loss of muscle control are, our body is prepared for them and will try to protect us from harm. In fact, it’s even more complex than that: Our nervous system is constantly adapting to changes in order to keep us safe and healthy.

The nervous system works like a balance between different systems that work together; one affects the other and vice versa. When one system fails (as happens during hypnagogic/hypnopompic hallucinations), another will take over (cataplexy).


We hope this article helps you understand narcolepsy better and avoid these common mistakes. We wish you all the best in your journey with us!