Life Effects of Narcolepsy in 180 Patients From North America, Asia and Europe Compared to Matched Controls

Can J Neurol Sci. 1981 Nov;8(4):299-304. doi: 10.1017/s0317167100043419.


A questionnaire survey has been made of the life effects of narcolepsy in 180 patients, 60 each from North American, Asian and European populations, with 180 similarly distributed age and sex matched controls. Life-effects were attributed by the patients to the primary symptoms of excessive daytime drowsiness, sleep attacks, cataplexy, vivid hypnagogic hallucinations and sleep paralysis, and also to other frequent symptoms such as visual problems (blurring, diplopia) and memory impairment. Occupational problems were prevalent (over 75%) and included statistically significant deleterious effects upon performance, promotion, earning capacity, fear of or actual job loss and increased disability insurance. Driving was greatly affected and patients fell asleep at the wheel more frequently (66%), had near or actual accidents from drowsiness or falling asleep at the wheel (67%), and could experience cataplexy (29%) or sleep paralysis (12%) while driving. Work or home accidents attributed to sleepiness or sleep (49%) or related to smoking (49%) were much more common in patients. There were also deleterious effects on education, recreation and personality related to disease. Narcolepsy can produce a variety of life-effects probably more serious and pervasive than, for instance, those of epilepsy, therefore emphasizing the importance of early diagnosis and treatment.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accidents
  • Adult
  • Asia
  • Automobile Driving
  • Education
  • Europe
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Life Style*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Narcolepsy / physiopathology*
  • North America
  • Personality
  • Recreation
  • Work