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Narcolepsy Diagnosis

(Also Known As: Insomnia Diagnosis, Narcoleptic Diagnosis)

(Reviewed by: Paul Peterson, Licensed Therapist)

How is Narcolepsy Diagnosed?

Narcolepsy is often a condition that is either misdiagnosed or undiagnosed. 5 This is because the common symptoms of narcolepsy can be falsely attributed to other conditions such as other sleep disorders or other medical condition like seizures, epilepsy, and depression. Cataplexy is the sole symptom that is unique to narcolepsy. The diagnosis for narcolepsy often takes time since the first symptoms usually manifest at the later age of 10 to 15 years old.

The following are the various diagnostic tests and methods for diagnosing narcolepsy.

  • Epworth Sleepiness Scale (a general sleep questionnaire)
  • Multiple Sleep Latency Test (an overnight test measure for the heart and brain and the muscular and eye movement)
  • Nocturnal Polysomnogram (measures the duration one falls asleep during the day)
  • Spinal Fluid Analysis (examines the hypocretin in the cerebrospinal fluid)
  • Sleep history
  • Actigraphy ( a detailed diary of one’s sleep patterns)

Differential diagnosis is important since the narcolepsy symptoms may also be attributed to other medical and psychological conditions. Daytime sleepiness can indicate serious physiological disorders and disease such as brain tumors, anemia, and heart disease. Affective disorders such as depression can share similar symptoms of narcolepsy such as disrupted sleep and tiredness, which can be products of stress and depression, both conditions responding to REM sleep manipulation. Lifestyle assessment may be required to distinguish narcolepsy from depression and stress. 6

Could You Have Narcolepsy?

Narcolepsy Topics

Related Conditions

Dyssomnia – Difficulty Remaining Asleep, Disturbed Quantity and Quality of Sleep
Hypersomnia – Excessive Daytime Sleepiness, Prolonged Nighttime Sleep, Repeated Daytime Naps
Parasomnias NOS – Abnormal Movement When Sleeping, Abnormal Emotion and Behavior During Sleep, Sleepwalking, Bruxism, Sleep Terror Disorder, Nightmare Disorder