Excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) is the primary problem for people with narcolepsy, even when they’re taking prescription stimulant medications.
There is preliminary research from Duke University suggesting that a low-carbohydrate diet (less than 20 grams of carbs per day) along with plenty of fluids and a daily multivitamin (for deficiencies that could occur while dieting) could modestly improve symptoms, including EDS. Carbohydrates can cause an insulin spike and sluggishness, which can trigger a narcoleptic episode. I think it’s worth a try, especially since narcolepsy patients have a higher risk for obesity, type 2 diabetes, and abnormal cholesterol.
Narcolepsy usually begins in the teens or twenties, and symptoms include excessive sleepiness; cataplexy (sudden reduction or loss of muscle tone after an emotional trigger—usually laughter or at times anger or surprise); hallucinations upon falling asleep or when awakening; and sleep paralysis (inability to move or speak during sleep-wake transitions).
What is Narcolepsy?
Narcolepsy is a chronic sleep disorder characterized by overwhelming daytime drowsiness and sudden attacks of sleep. People with narcolepsy often find it difficult to stay awake for long periods of time, regardless of the circumstances. Narcolepsy can cause serious disruptions in your daily routine.
Sometimes, narcolepsy can be accompanied by a sudden loss of muscle tone (cataplexy), which can be triggered by strong emotion. Narcolepsy that occurs with cataplexy is called type 1 narcolepsy. Narcolepsy that occurs without cataplexy is known as type 2 narcolepsy.
Narcolepsy is a chronic condition for which there’s no cure. However, medications and lifestyle changes can help you manage the symptoms. Support from others — family, friends, employers, teachers — can help you cope with narcolepsy.
What is the Best Supplement For Treating Narcolepsy?
A novel preliminary study from the University of Tokyo in Japan discovered some patients with narcolepsy have lower blood levels of carnitine, so researchers conducted a preliminary 8-week study of 510 milligrams of L-carnitine a day compared to a placebo.
Subjects reported spending less time dozing off during the day with the supplement (the primary endpoint). The study suggests that some narcoleptics may have abnormal fatty acid metabolism, which means they’re not able to supply various body tissues with the energy they need to conduct normal activity, leading to narcoleptic symptoms. L-carnitine may improve this metabolism. More research is needed.