Sleep Disorders
All About Sleep Disorders
Who is Affected By Sleep Disorders
Who Treats Sleep Disorders
What Happens At A Sleep Lab
Types of Sleep Disorders
Sleep Apnea
What is Sleep Apnea
What Causes Sleep Apnea
Treating Sleep Apnea
Sleep Apnea in Children
What is Insomnia
What Causes Insomnia
Treating Insomnia
Sleep Walking
What is Sleep Walking
What Causes Sleep Walking
Treating Sleep Waking
Hypersomnia: Daytime Sleepiness
What is Hypersomnia
What Causes Hypersomnia
Treating Hypersomnia
Sleep Paralysis
What is Sleep Paralysis
What Causes Sleep Paralysis
Treating Sleep Paralysis
REM Sleep Behavior Disorder
What is REM Sleep
What Causes REM Sleep
Treating REM Sleep
What is Narcolepsy
What Causes Narcolepsy
Treating Narcolepsy
Restless Leg Syndrome
What is Restless Leg Syndrome
What Causes Restless Leg Syndrome
Treating Restless Leg Syndrome
What are Nightmares
What Causes Nightmares
Treating Nightmares
What is Snoring
What Causes Snoring
Treating Snoring
Sleep Deprivation
What is Sleep Deprivation
What Causes Sleep Deprivation
Treating Sleep Deprivation
Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders
What are Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders
What Causes Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders
Treating Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders
Dentistry and Sleep Disorders
Dentists’ Role in Managing Sleep Disorders
Dental Treatments for Sleep Disorders
Advantages of Dental Treatments
Site Map


What Causes Narcolepsy



Narcolepsy is caused by a neurological condition, and is worsened by irregular sleep patterns or sleep disorders like insomnia. Narcoleptics have low levels of a chemical in the brain called hypocretin that promotes wakefulness. Doctors are still discovering what exactly causes these low levels of hypocretin, but they have identified a number of factors that they believe contribute including:

  • Heredity:  Many doctors believe that hypocretin deficiency is a genetic trait that is inherited.  Up to 10 percent of people who have narcolepsy report having a relative who has the same symptoms.
  • Infections: Certain infections can trigger hormonal imbalances that greatly affect sleep cycles and could lead to narcolepsy.
  • Brain injuries:  Injuries caused by conditions such as brain tumors, strokes, or trauma (for example, car accidents or military-related wounds) can result in abnormalities in the brain that disrupt REM sleep.
  • Autoimmune disorders: An example of an autoimmune disorder is rheumatoid arthritis. With these disorders, the body's immune system mistakenly attacks the body's cells and tissues, weakening the body’s ability to regulate sleep. 
  • Low levels of histamine: Histamine is a substance in the blood that promotes wakefulness. Low levels of histamine can cause daytime sleepiness, a common symptom of narcolepsy.


Some research suggests that environmental toxins may play a role in triggering narcolepsy. Toxins may include heavy metals, pesticides and weed killers, and secondhand smoke.


Narcolepsy is caused by a number of genetic, environmental and biological factors that interact to disrupt the sleep cycle.  While there is no one cause of narcolepsy, the presence of two or more of these traits can lead to a diagnosis of narcolepsy.

Home        Contact