European guideline and expert statements on the management of narcolepsy in adults and children

J Sleep Res. 2021 Dec;30(6):e13387. doi: 10.1111/jsr.13387. Epub 2021 Jun 25.


Background and purpose: Narcolepsy is an uncommon hypothalamic disorder of presumed autoimmune origin that usually requires lifelong treatment. This paper aims to provide evidence-based guidelines for the management of narcolepsy in both adults and children.

Methods: The European Academy of Neurology (EAN), European Sleep Research Society (ESRS), and European Narcolepsy Network (EU-NN) nominated a task force of 18 narcolepsy specialists. According to the EAN recommendations, 10 relevant clinical questions were formulated in PICO format. Following a systematic review of the literature (performed in Fall 2018 and updated in July 2020) recommendations were developed according to the GRADE approach.

Results: A total of 10,247 references were evaluated, 308 studies were assessed and 155 finally included. The main recommendations can be summarized as follows: (i) excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) in adults-scheduled naps, modafinil, pitolisant, sodium oxybate (SXB), solriamfetol (all strong); methylphenidate, amphetamine derivatives (both weak); (ii) cataplexy in adults-SXB, venlafaxine, clomipramine (all strong) and pitolisant (weak); (iii) EDS in children-scheduled naps, SXB (both strong), modafinil, methylphenidate, pitolisant, amphetamine derivatives (all weak); (iv) cataplexy in children-SXB (strong), antidepressants (weak). Treatment choices should be tailored to each patient's symptoms, comorbidities, tolerance and risk of potential drug interactions.

Conclusion: The management of narcolepsy involves non-pharmacological and pharmacological approaches with an increasing number of symptomatic treatment options for adults and children that have been studied in some detail.

Keywords: European; cataplexy; guideline; management; narcolepsy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cataplexy*
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Modafinil / therapeutic use
  • Narcolepsy* / diagnosis
  • Narcolepsy* / drug therapy
  • Sleep
  • Sodium Oxybate* / therapeutic use


  • Sodium Oxybate
  • Modafinil