Sleep Home > People With Narcolepsy
According to current estimates, there are more than 135,000 people with narcolepsy in the United States. There is strong evidence that narcolepsy may run in families; 8 to 12 percent of people with narcolepsy have a close relative with the disease. Narcolepsy affects both men and women at any age, although symptoms are usually first noticed in teenagers or young adults. Whatever the age of onset, people with narcolepsy find that their symptoms tend to get worse over the two to three decades after the first symptoms appear.
Narcolepsy is not rare, but it is believed to be an under-recognized and under-diagnosed condition. According to current estimates, narcolepsy affects about 1 in every 2,000 Americans -- a total of more than 135,000 individuals. After obstructive sleep apnea and restless legs syndrome, narcolepsy is the third most frequently diagnosed primary sleep disorder. But the number of people with narcolepsy remains uncertain, and narcolepsy may affect a larger segment of the population than currently estimated.
Narcolepsy affects both men and women at any age, although symptoms are usually first noticed in teenagers or young adults. Many people first experience narcolepsy symptoms between the ages of 35 and 45. A smaller number of people develop narcolepsy around the ages of 50 to 55. Narcolepsy can also develop early in life, probably more frequently than is generally recognized. For example, 3-year-old children have been diagnosed with narcolepsy.
Whatever the age of onset, people with narcolepsy find that their narcolepsy symptoms tend to get worse over the two to three decades after the first symptoms appear. Many older patients find that some daytime symptoms decrease in severity after age 60.
Narcolepsy appears throughout the world in every racial and ethnic group. But occurrence rates vary among populations. Compared to the U.S. population, for example, the occurrence rate of narcolepsy is substantially lower in Israel (about 1 per 500,000 people) and considerably higher in Japan (about 1 per 600).