Managing Narcolepsy at Work

Woman at desk

It may be a good idea to tell your co-workers, supervisor, or human resources department about your diagnosis, if it’s appropriate. Give a short, clear definition of what narcolepsy is and what the symptoms look like. Describe possible scenarios where symptoms may occur (for example, an episode of cataplexy when laughing), and be ready with concrete plans that you believe help you manage symptoms and increase productivity at work. Depending on your work setting, employers may be obligated to make accommodations.

Helpful strategies for staying alert and productive at work are to stand up periodically, for example while talking on the phone or in conversation with a co-worker; and walk around the office or outside when possible. Taking brief naps during the workday may be essential, so assess the best strategy for this—whether it’s napping in your office or signing up for another room for 30 minutes to allow for a nap. Explain to your co-workers and supervisor that a short nap increases your productivity.