Narcolepsy is a chronic brain disorder that affects the control of sleep and waking. People with narcolepsy experience excessive daytime sleepiness and sudden, uncontrollable episodes of falling asleep at any time, even while talking or eating a meal. Narcolepsy also can cause cataplexy, a sudden loss of muscle tone while awake. Cataplexy can make a person go limp or be unable to move or speak, and it also can cause hallucinations or paralysis just after waking up.

Narcoleptics do not necessarily sleep more than others, but they typically have poor sleep quality. They enter deep rapid eye movement (REM) sleep within a few minutes of falling asleep, so when they wake up, they often have problems moving or speaking for a few minutes. Narcolepsy can affect males and females equally, and while it usually starts between the ages of 7 and 25, it can occur later in life. There is no cure for narcolepsy, but medications, lifestyle changes, and other therapies can improve symptoms.

UAB Medicine provides complete treatment for sleep-related disorders. We use a team approach that combines the expertise of multiple medical specialties, including internal medicine, pulmonology, otolaryngology (ear, nose, and throat, or ENT), and surgery.

UAB was an early leader in sleep medicine, receiving our first accreditation from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine in 1986. Today, the UAB Sleep/Wake Disorders Center’s board-certified physicians continue to lead their field, and they are active in clinical trials and research on topics such as the relationship of sleep disorders to obesity, new therapies for restless legs syndrome, and how obstructive sleep apnea is connected to some forms of high blood pressure. Our pioneering work led the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to present us with the coveted Sleep Academic Award. As a result, patients with difficult sleep problems are referred to UAB from throughout Alabama.

UAB Medicine is home to the first sleep disorders technologist in the world to be fully certified in the Inspire Care Pathway. This is a set of guidelines or “best practices” for using the Inspire upper airway stimulation device, which is implanted to treat sleep apnea. Click here to learn more.

Our state-of-the-art facility at UAB Hospital-Highlands offers the convenience of easy access and free parking. A significant advantage of coming to UAB is that you will not have to wait several weeks to get test results after an overnight sleep study; instead, you receive the results of your sleep study, a diagnosis, a treatment plan, and any prescriptions the morning after your study. Generally, patients are ready to leave by 9 am following an overnight sleep study.

UAB has no financial ties to durable medical equipment (DME) companies who sell or service sleep products or CPAP/BiPAP devices. You are free to choose your own provider.

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