Thanks for the interesting question!
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke describes
Narcolepsy is a disabling neurological disorder of sleep regulation
that affects the control of sleep and wakefulness. It may be described
as an intrusion of the dreaming state of sleep (called REM or rapid
eye movement sleep) into the waking state. Symptoms generally begin
between the ages of 15 and 30. The four classic symptoms of the
disorder are excessive daytime sleepiness; cataplexy (sudden, brief
episodes of muscle weakness or paralysis brought on by strong
emotions); sleep paralysis; and hypnagogic hallucinations (vivid
dream-like images that occur at sleep onset). It is probable that
there is an important genetic component to the disorder as well.
Patients with the disorder experience irresistible sleep attacks,
throughout the day, which can last for 30 seconds to more than 30
minutes, regardless of the amount or quality of prior nighttime sleep.
Although narcolepsy is not a rare disorder, it is often misdiagnosed
or diagnosed only years after symptoms first appear.
Stanford University has a Center for Narcolepsy with an excellent
The Stanford center webpage has an extensive set of medical/technical
publications that can be found by following the link for Publications
on the left hand side of the homepage.
Two interesting studies found in this publication list include:
A short medical study called "Hypocretin (orexin) deficiency in human
narcolepsy" in the journal Lancet, January 2000, volume 355(9197),
pages 39-40. It can be found at
This study shows that humans with narcolepsy often lack a protein
called "Hypocretin-1". This was a small study of 9 narcoleptics and
gives details on their age, sex, the seriousness of their disease,
thier medications, and their levels of Hypocretin-1.
There is also a longer review of narcolepsy called "Hypocretin/orexin,
sleep and narcolepsy" from the journal Bioessays, May 2001 Volume
23(5) pages 397-408. It can be found at
This study has several good figures and graphs. It discusses the
discovery that narcoleptics lack Hypocretin, it shows that Hypocretin
is found exclusively in the brain, and it discusses the roles
Hypocretin could play in the body.
The University of Illinois also has a Center for Narcolepsy research.
Other useful links include:
Bibliosleep (literature database)
Narcolepsy Research Project at the University of Pennsylvania
I hope this answers your question! Don't hesitate to ask for
clarification if needed.