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Screening and Tests for Narcolepsy

Preliminary diagnosis of narcolepsy can occur with the presence of excessive daytime sleepiness and cataplexy. Others tests for narcolepsy generally seek to confirm this preliminary diagnosis and devise a treatment program.

Diagnosing narcolepsy usually begins with the patient providing a detailed sleep history, including a questionnaire that gauges the patient’s level of sleepiness and how likely the patient is to fall asleep in certain situations. Patients may also be asked to keep a sleep journal, or a record of their sleep patterns over a week or two.

Some narcolepsy patients may be asked to undergo a test called an overnight polysomnogram, which monitors signals during sleep through the use of electrodes placed on the patient’s head. Additionally, a multiple sleep latency test can be used to measure the onset and sleep and how quickly REM sleep occurs. A hypocretin test may be used to test for low levels of hypocretin, a brain chemical that regulates REM sleep. To conduct this test, doctors will perform a spinal tap to remove a sample of spinal fluid. Finally, genetic blood tests can be used to look for a genetic mutation common in narcolepsy patients. 

Locations for Narcolepsy