Narcolepsy is incurable. However, it is not hopeless. Drug treatment is helpful to a degree, but overall it can be rated as only moderately effective. Therefore, e narcoleptics must learn to live as best we can with this monster that threatens to gobble up our most productive waking hours.
Coping skills for us equate to survival tactics under wartime conditions! Considering this fact, we must prepare ourselves with the best weapons at our disposal starting with knowledge. With knowledge, a good positive attitude and determination, e can surmount the obstacles.
Nevertheless, by using our resources to the best of our abilities, we can improve our circumstances. It is not the changes of lifestyle forced upon us nor the sacrifices demanded of us that affect our quality of life as much as our attitudes:
- Accept yourself as a person with narcolepsy. You are different in some ways and you have some special needs. That’s ok
- Don’t be ashamed of your condition or its symptoms. You have no more need to apologize for your actions than a heart or cancer patient would for theirs. Sure, there may be embarrassing situations, but don’t agonize over them.
- Develop a good sense of humor. It’s much nicer to have people laughing with you than leave yourself alone. In any case, it makes life much more pleasant.
- Don’t be too hard to yourself. Set realistic goals that you can accomplish. Don’t push yourself beyond your limits and then be own worst critic. If you are a perfectionist, rethink your priorities. Is it better to complete every task perfectly or to be well adjusted and content and let others be doing also?
- Don’t be too easy on yourself either. Don’t allow yourself to use narcolepsy as a crutch an excuse for not doing the things you can and should do.
- Don’t feel guilty because of things beyond your control. Do the best you can with what you have and accept that from yourself.
- Accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative. Think on the good site, and be thankful for what you have rather than complaining about what could have been.
Live a healthful lifestyle, which includes:
- Good nutritional habits. Watch for foods that worsen daytime sleep, those that keep you awake at night.
- Regular eating habits eat meals on a regular schedule.
- Don’t eat lunch too late at the time pf maximum sleepiness.
- Don’t skip meals and then snack on junk foods. This may be of particular concern if you are on a drug that acts as an appetite suppressant.
- Switch to low calorie/nonfat or low fats, fruit and veggie snacks.
- Limited amount of caffeine (coffee, tea, and chocolate). Switch to decaffeinated drinks in the afternoon.
- No tobacco (cigarettes, plug or pipe). Smoking can be exceptionally dangerous to the health of those who fall asleep with a cigarette in their hand.
- Moderate amounts or no alcohol. Don’t mix alcohol with certain drugs. Check with your pharmacist if in doubt.
- Adequate exercise. Walking at least three times a week is highly recommended, no strenuous exercise just before bedtime.
- Good, regular sleeping habits like go to bed and get up at the same time every day. Get enough sleep to meet your needs.
- Take short naps (10-20 minutes) 1-3 times a day as needed. Short naps to help to maintain alertness, long naps are more apt to leave you feeling groggy. Some people find a long nap after lunch beneficial.
- Try not to sleep so much during the day that it ill interferes with your nighttime sleep.
- Do important or tedious tasks during an alert period. Stimulating tasks at sleepy times of the day.