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Lifestyle Changes to Manage Narcolepsy

Most people with narcolepsy who make lifestyle changes find it easier to be alert during the day.

Nighttime Sleep

It’s important for you to regulate your sleep. This will help you be more alert during the day. Try to get about 8 hours of sleep each night.

Plan Naps

Plan to take naps at certain times during the day. This will help you stay alert. Some people find 2 to 3 short (10 to 15 minutes) naps better than one longer one. Try each of these to see which works better for you.

Avoid Certain Substances

Be careful when drinking caffeinated drinks or alcohol. Don't use nicotine products. Alcohol can make you drowsier. It also makes it harder to sleep at night. Nicotine and caffeine are stimulants and may interfere with getting refreshing sleep at night or during daytime naps.

Exercise Regularly

Exercise can increase your energy level and make it easier to get through the day. But, don't exercise within 3 hours of your bedtime. Exercise can boost your energy to a point that it keeps you from falling asleep.

Check with your doctor before starting any exercise program. You should make sure it won't interfere with any health problems you may have.


Narcolepsy. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: Updated November 14, 2017. Accessed September 5, 2018.

Narcolepsy. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. National Institutes of Health website. Available at: Accessed September 5, 2018.

Narcolepsy fact sheet. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: Updated July 6, 2018. Accessed September 5, 2018.

Last reviewed May 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Adrian Preda, MD