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Narcolepsy is a neurological condition that impacts the brain’s ability to control your sleep and wake cycles. People with narcolepsy experience extreme daytime sleepiness and may fall asleep suddenly during the day. This can happen at work or even in dangerous situations. For example, you could fall asleep while driving.

In a normal sleep cycle, you enter rapid eye movement (REM) sleep after about 60 to 90 minutes. Dreams occur during REM sleep and the brain keeps muscles limp during this sleep stage. The brain does this in order to  prevent people from acting out their dreams. People with narcolepsy enter REM sleep within 15 minutes of falling asleep. Also, the muscle weakness of REM sleep can occur while the person is awake. Entering into REM sleep so quickly, explain some symptoms of narcolepsy.

Based on scientific studies, narcolepsy affects around 1 in 2,000 to 3,000 people in the general population. This means that over 200,000 people in the US have the condition. Also, almost 3 million people have the condition in the world.

However, because narcolepsy can overlap with other sleep conditions. Therefore, it is possible that some cases go undiagnosed. Most people who experience the condition are between the ages of 10-30 and it impacts women and men at the same rate.

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If you suspect that you have narcolepsy, there are no physical tests that will show whether or not you have it. If you go to the doctor and have a physical exam, then the results will be normal. The only thing that might not be normal on testing is a sleep study.

The sleep symptoms will range from being mild drowsy to severe episodes in which you spend the entire day drifting in and out of sleep. You will be unable to work, supervise your home, or do other activities. Sleep periods range from a few seconds to 30 minutes. The feeling is described as ordinary but uncontrollable drowsiness.

When observed by others, the sleep appears natural and is readily interrupted by stimuli. Once awakened, the narcoleptic patient is alert. Not all individuals will have all of the symptoms. Cataplexy, however, is observed in 70 percent of all cases, and its presence is sufficient to establish narcolepsy, without laboratory sleep studies.


There are a number of key elements that your doctor will look for when you are being tested for narcolepsy. The first of these is excessive daytime sleepiness. We have all felt tired during the day. Especially, when we did not get a good night’s sleep. However, people with narcolepsy often feel extremely tired and cannot control their urge to sleep during the day. This is true no matter how much sleep they had the night before. Therefore, people with narcolepsy usually take frequent daytime naps.

Another key element that occurs with narcolepsy is cataplexy. Cataplexy is a sudden loss of muscle tone, usually triggered by strong emotions such as laughter or anger. During a cataplectic episode, your muscles may become weak or paralyzed, causing them to have trouble moving.

If you have a disruption in the normal sleep cycle, then it is possible for you to experience another element of narcolepsy: sleep paralysis. Sleep paralysis is the temporary inability to move or speak while falling asleep or when you are waking up. For those who have this symptoms, it is a frightening experience.

Another possible element of narcolepsy is hypnagogic hallucinations. These are vivid dream experiences that occur when falling asleep. If you have narcolepsy, then may experience intense hallucinations that seem real. They occur when you are in between waking and sleep.


It is important to understand what type of narcolepsy you have, so that you can get the correct treatment. There are two primary types of narcolepsy:

  1. Narcolepsy with Cataplexy (Type 1 Narcolepsy): This form of narcolepsy involves both excessive daytime sleepiness and cataplexy, which is the sudden loss of muscle tone triggered by strong emotions. Narcolepsy Type 1 is caused by a lack of hypocretin/orexin, a neurotransmitter that plays a crucial role in regulating wakefulness. During a cataplectic episode, you may experience muscle weakness or even complete muscle collapse. But, you will remain fully conscious.
  2. Narcolepsy without Cataplexy (Type 2 Narcolepsy): People with Type 2 narcolepsy experience daytime sleepiness, but they do not have cataplexy. However, they may still experience other symptoms, such as sleep paralysis and hypnagogic hallucinations.

If you think you have narcolepsy, then you should seek medical attention. You will need to seek treatment from a doctor who has experience treating sleep disorders. Appropriate treatment can help manage your medical symptoms and improve the quality of your life.


The exact cause of narcolepsy is not fully understood, but scientists believe it to be a combination of genetand immune system factors. Below are some of the leading theories on what causes narcolepsy:

  1. Genetics: It is likely that narcolepsy has a genetic component, because it tends to run in families. Certain genetic variations may increase the risk of having narcolepsy. The most significant genetic association is with the HLA-DQB1*06:02 gene variant. However, even if you have the gene variant, it does not mean that you will get narcolepsy.
  2. Autoimmune Response: Another theory is that narcolepsy comes from an autoimmune response. For example, the immune system may mistakenly attack and destroy the neurons that produce hypocretin. Hypocretin is a neurotransmitter that controls wakefulness and REM sleep. The loss of cells that produce hypocretin in the brain can lead to narcolepsy.
  3. Environmental Triggers: Environmental factors can trigger narcolepsy in a person who has a genetic predisposition. Triggers can be something as simple as an infection. For example, streptococcal infections  been linked to an increased risk of narcolepsy.
  4. Brain Chemistry: Narcolepsy is associated with imbalances of neurotransmitters in the brain. These neurotransmitters control sleep regulation. If they get out of balance, then it may cause narcoleptic symptoms.

Although narcolepsy and epilepsy are not the same medical condition, the SSA uses the epilepsy for narcolepsy.  In other words, there is no listing for narcolepsy. Therefore, the SSA believes that the closest listing to narcolepsy is listing 11.02 for epilepsy. They will look at how often you have narcoleptic events and compare the severity of your symptoms to the epilepsy listing.

LISTING 11.02 – Epilepsy documented by a detailed description of a typical seizure and characterized by A, B, C, or D:

A. Generalized tonic-clonic seizures, that occur at least once a month for at least 3 consecutive months despite adherence to prescribed treatment.


B. Dyscognitive seizures, that occur at least once a week for at least 3 consecutive months despite adherence to prescribed treatment.

C. Generalized tonic-clonic seizures, that occur at least once every 2 months for at least 4 consecutive months  despite adherence to prescribed treatment; and a marked limitation in one of the following:

  1. Physical functioning; or
  2. Understanding, remembering, or applying information; or
  3. Interacting with others; or
  4. Concentrating, persisting, or maintaining pace; or
  5. Adapting or managing oneself.

D. Dyscognitive seizures, that occur at least once every 2 weeks for at least 3 months in a row despite adherence to prescribed treatment; and a marked limitation in one of the following:

  1. Physical functioning; or
  2. Understanding, remembering, or applying information; or
  3. Interacting with others; or
  4. Concentrating, persisting, or maintaining pace; or
  5. Adapting or managing oneself.


The treatment for narcolepsy aims to manage the symptoms of the condition. The treatment plan may involve a combination of changes in your habits, medication, and therapy. It’s important to work with a doctor who has experience in sleep conditions to develop your treatment. Here are some common ways to treat narcolepsy:


Stimulant drugs are often given to make you feel more alert and reduce daytime sleepiness. These medications stimulate the central nervous system to promote alertness. However, these medications may have side effects and need careful monitoring.


Sodium oxybate is a medication that can manage both daytime sleepiness and cataplexy. It is taken at night and helps improve sleep quality and reduces daytime symptoms.


Certain medications that are used for depression, like prozac, can help you with the symptoms of cataplexy. The medications can also help with the other symptoms of narcolepsy. Fortunately, medications can help control the  sleep-wake cycle.


Habit changes can help you cope with narcolepsy. For example, trying to maintain a regular sleep schedule will help. Also, taking short naps during the day can help you deal with the fatigue that comes with the condition. Avoiding caffeine and large meals close to bedtime, can also help create the right environment for your body to rest during evening hours. Similarly, trying to avoid intense emotions, can help limit how often you experience cataplexy.


Cognitive behavioral therapy can help you deal with any emotional or mental issues related to your narcolepsy. It can also help your develop coping skills to manage your symptoms.


To file for SSDI and SSI benefits, you can visit the SSA’s website. Or, you can call the SSA at 1-800-772-1213. Additionally, you can schedule an appointment at the local SSA office near you, so that you can apply in person. Beginning the application process is easy, especially if you start online. If you need help with the application, then contact the experts at Cannon Disability Law to help you file for SSD benefits.

We recommend filing for benefits through your SSD attorney. Your lawyer will make sure that the application is complete. Additionally, your lawyer can submit your medical records. She can also submit other information with your SSD application. Of course, you can also apply without legal assistance. Some people prefer to apply on their own. Then, if they receive a denial they hire an attorney.

While many people do this, we do not think it is the best course of action. The SSA is looking for certain information to see if they can pay you benefits. Why not start with hiring a lawyer? The lawyer can submit your information at the outset of the case. This may shorten the waiting time for a decision.

However, even if you hire a lawyer to help submit your application, you may still receive a denial. Most people receive a denial after the initial application. Do not give up. You have sixty days to appeal. Make sure you file a timely appeal.


The federal government has two different benefit programs. These are the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). To qualify for either, you must have a mental or physical condition that limits your ability to work for more than one year or that will result in death. Also, to win SSD benefits, you must have enough work credits. The SSI program, however, has income and asset limits.

Funded through payroll taxes, SSDI pays benefits to individuals with a work history. If the SSA approves you for benefits, then you will receive benefits six months after your onset date of disability. Your onset date is the day your narcolepsy began. The first six months after your onset date is considered a waiting period. SSD benefits are not payable during that time.

Once your waiting period is over, you can receive your monthly benefit payment. If you receive SSD, then you can also get Medicare benefits. There is a 29 month waiting period for Medicare benefits. The 29 month waiting period is made up of the waiting period and 2 years. Therefore, 29 months after your onset date of disability, you can get Medicare.

If you file an SSI application and receive benefits, then may also be able to get Medicaid. To receive Medicaid, you must meet your state’s income and asset rules. Medicaid payments, like SSI benefits, begin the date you file your application. There is no waiting period. However, there is also no past due period of benefits prior to the application date. Find out more here about past due benefits.


Supplemental Security Income benefits are for those who have not worked. Or, they are for those who are low income. Once you win benefits, you should receive your first payment within the next month. If there is a back benefits, it can take 4-6 months for the SSA to send it to you. It is important to remember that in order to get SSI benefits, you also have to meet the income and asset rules.

The SSI income and asset rules depend on the state in which you live. However, as a general rule, you cannot have more than $2000 in a savings or bank account. You can also not have assets that are seen as excess items that could be sold for money. For example, a motorcycle, if you already have a car. Or a cabin, if you already have a home. These items are seen by the SSA as assets that you don’t need and that you can sell.


If you do not equal the listing for epilepsy, then the ALJ must assess your RFC. Your RFC is your ability to perform work activities in an ordinary work setting on a regular basis. A normal work setting is 8 hours a day for 5 days a week.

The ALJ must describe the maximum amount of each work related activity that you can do based on the evidence in the medical record. For example, if the medical record shows how often you fall asleep during a normal day or week, then that may be evidence to support that you cannot make it through an 8 hour day. Employers don’t allow workers to fall asleep during the day.

Falling asleep during the work day is similar to having to take extra breaks due to pain or another medical condition. You can see why the SSA would think narcolepsy is like epilepsy, because the sleep episodes occur without warning. Employees need to be able to work throughout an 8 hour workday, except for planned break periods. For more information about how the SSA reviews your RFC, read Social Security Ruling 96-8p.


If you don’t hire an attorney, then there is a good chance you will not win your case at your hearing. In order to question the experts at your hearing, you need an attorney. You also may not know what kinds of questions the judge will ask.

Similarly, you may not be ready to answer those questions in the proper way. You do not want to lose your hearing. Don’t take that chance. Hire a lawyer in Las Vegas, Nevada. Or, if you are from Utah, hire the best Salt Lake City SSD attorney near you. Also, hire us because we have the most legal experience. It will help you win your benefits.

Another important factor to consider is what it costs to hire an attorney. At our law firm,  you do not pay an attorney fee until we win your case. The attorney fee comes out of your back benefit. If we do not win your SSD benefits, then there is no back benefit. Therefore, you will not owe an attorney fee.

If there are costs in your case, then you pay those costs. However, the costs are minimal. For example, you must pay for a copy of your medical records. The  medical record cost is whatever your doctor charges. You owe costs whether we win or lose your case. But, to hire most lawyers, you have to pay attorney fees upfront. That doesn’t happen when you hire our law firm to help you win SSD and SSI benefits


You do not have to obtain SSD benefits on your own. If you have narcolepsy, along with any other medical condition, we can help file your SSD application. Also, we can help you through each of the appeal stages of the Social Security process.

When you leave that up to us, you can focus on your health. Our attorneys and staff can:

If you file your SSD application online at Social Security’s website, then you have 6 months to complete the application. It is best to complete the application quickly. You don’t want to run out the 6 month time limit.


We will use our skills to help you through the Social Security process. It is our goal to win your case for narcolepsy. But, it also our goal to make the legal process easier for you. We offer a free review of your case. There is no pressure to become a client if you call. You can simply ask questions. We will answer and if we can’t help you, we will refer you to someone who can.

It doesn’t cost you any upfront money to hire us. Why? Because you only pay us an attorney fee if we win your case. This means if we win, you pay us out of your back benefit. If you do not win, you do not pay an attorney fee. The attorney fee is 25% of your back benefit. Also, the fee is capped at $7200 by the SSA. You do not pay more than the cap. And, 25% is usually less than the cap. You pay which ever amount is less between the cap and 25% of your back benefit. And, you pay only if we win your benefits.

If there are costs in your case, then you pay those costs. But the costs are usually less than $100. Usually the only cost is to pay for a copy of your medical records. You owe costs whether we win or lose. Again, attorney fees are paid from your back benefit.

To hire most lawyers, you have to pay upfront. We don’t work like that. You don’t have a job. So, how can you pay upfront? The only way for you to pay us is for us to win your case. So, that is our goal. Contact us today for help in your narcolepsy case. Put our legal experience to work for you.

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