Narcolepsy in young people

Onset is often in childhood or early adolescence

Narcolepsy can occur at any stage of life, but the onset is often during childhood or early adolescence. The link between narcolepsy and the Pandemrix swine flu vaccine has led to an upsurge in the number of cases of narcolepsy amongst young people.

Challenges for young people

Narcolepsy in young people presents particular challenges in relation to education and to home and family life. Symptoms of narcolepsy, such as cataplexy and hypnagogic hallucinations, can be terrifying, especially for young children, and excessive daytime sleepiness and its effects may be misinterpreted as laziness or lack of intelligence.

Families have an important part to play ...

For family members, it is critically important to understand what narcolepsy is and what impact it has upon the young person with narcolepsy. Only then can they provide the practical and emotional support necessary to enable the young person to realise their full potential.

... and teachers too

Teachers and other education professionals need to understand the condition too, so that they can take appropriate measures, such as allowing time for naps during the day and ensuring that the young person is given additional time for exams

You are not alone!

For young people themselves, getting to know others in the same situation can be enormously beneficial. Through social media, events and our conferences, young people with narcolepsy can make friendships that help them deal with the consequences of their condition, and also give them the chance to help others in a similar situation.

“It was lovely for our daughter to be able to talk about her illness at the network support meeting with people who really understood. She seemed to blossom."

Whether you are a young person with narcolepsy, a family member or an education professional, for help and advice you can get in touch with us directly, either through the Contact Us page of this website, or by calling our helpline.

Do also try to attend our annual conference; at least part of the programme is usually devoted to issues affecting young people.