Narcolepsy is a chronic sleep disorder that disrupts the regulation of a person’s sleep–wake cycle, leading to significant challenges in daily functioning. It is characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness, sudden muscle weakness (cataplexy), sleep paralysis, and vivid hypnagogic hallucinations. A literature search was
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Narcolepsy is a chronic sleep disorder that disrupts the regulation of a person’s sleep–wake cycle, leading to significant challenges in daily functioning. It is characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness, sudden muscle weakness (cataplexy), sleep paralysis, and vivid hypnagogic hallucinations. A literature search was conducted in different databases to identify relevant studies on various aspects of narcolepsy. The main search terms included “narcolepsy”, “excessive daytime sleepiness”, “cataplexy”, and related terms. The search was limited to studies published until May 2023. This literature review aims to provide an overview of narcolepsy, encompassing its causes, diagnosis, treatment options, impact on individuals’ lives, prevalence, and recommendations for future research. The review reveals several important findings regarding narcolepsy: 1. the classification of narcolepsy—type 1 narcolepsy, previously known as narcolepsy with cataplexy, and type 2 narcolepsy, also referred to as narcolepsy without cataplexy; 2. the genetic component of narcolepsy and the complex nature of the disorder, which is characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness, disrupted sleep patterns, and potential impacts on daily life activities and social functioning; and 3. the important implications for clinical practice in the management of narcolepsy. Healthcare professionals should be aware of the different types of narcolepsies and their associated symptoms, as this can aid in accurate diagnosis and treatment planning. The review underscores the need for a multidisciplinary approach to narcolepsy management, involving specialists in sleep medicine, neurology, psychiatry, and psychology. Clinicians should consider the impact of narcolepsy on a person’s daily life, including their ability to work, study, and participate in social activities, and provide appropriate support and interventions. There are several gaps in knowledge regarding narcolepsy. Future research should focus on further elucidating the genetic causes and epigenetic mechanisms of narcolepsy and exploring potential biomarkers for early detection and diagnosis. Long-term studies assessing the effectiveness of different treatment approaches, including pharmacological interventions and behavioral therapies, are needed. Additionally, there is a need for research on strategies to improve the overall well-being and quality of life of individuals living with narcolepsy, including the development of tailored support programs and interventions.