Narcolepsy is a disorder that makes it difficult for a person to stay awake sometimes meaning that there are moments when the affected person will simply fall asleep regardless of where they are or what is happening, reports WebMD. The disorder is extreme and a person could be in the middle of giving a public speech in the middle of the afternoon and simply fall asleep due to narcolepsy.
The disorder is neurological and creates odd sleep cycles in people that can lead to problems with alertness. Most people who have narcolepsy experience their first "sleep moments" at 15 to 25 years of age. Scientists are not sure why some people develop narcolepsy, which makes it more difficult to treat, according to WebMD. To treat narcolepsy, doctors ask patients to keep a sleep journal, to attend a physical examination to deal with other possible issues, make lifestyle changes and take narcolepsy medication, such as modafinil.
The symptoms of narcolepsy include cataplexy, daytime tiredness, sleep paralysis and hallucinations, according to WebMD. These people also have a difficult time sleeping through the night and are prone to waking up, which only exacerbates their problems with alertness and everyday functioning, reports the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. It is believed that one in 3,000 Americans have narcolepsy, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.