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Is Narcolepsy Hereditary?

Narcolepsy is considered to be one of the most life threatening type of sleep disorders. It is characterized by a triad of symptoms, including cataplexy (sudden loss of muscle tone), excessive daytime drowsiness or sleepiness (EDS), and sleep paralysis. Even though a person suffering from the condition was able to sleep well during the night, he or she may still feel excessive sleepiness the next day. Narcolepsy is one of the many sleep disorders that is a type of neurological disorder. Usually, It starts to appear during adolescence or early childhood. There can be a lot of possible factors that can possibly cause the problem, including hereditary, autoimmune reactions, and other environmental factors.

Sleep Disorders: Narcolepsy and Heredity


As of the moment, there are no known exact causes for it. Scientists and other medical professionals are still researching what are the exact causes of narcolepsy. In fact, scientists and medical professionals believe that genetics can contribute to the development of the problem when triggered with some undefined environmental factors. However, the ongoing study and research about narcolepsy and its connection with genetics show that most cases of reported it shows a weak connection between the development of the disorder with genetic inheritance.

Sleep Disorders: Family Cluster of Narcolepsy

Narcoleptic Woman at Work

Even though it has been proven that narcolepsy and genetic inheritance has a weak connection, it has been found that there are some families that are suffering from a family cluster of it. Many medical professionals agree that 8% to 12% of people who are suffering from the problem have a close family relative who is also suffering from the  condition. However, it does not mean that if you have a family relative that is suffering from narcolepsy, you will most likely get to suffer it as well. Having a family member with the similar condition can slightly increase your risk from developing it, compared to other sleep disorders and other medical conditions that are genetic in origin.

Sleep Disorders: Other Possible Causes of Narcolepsy

Another possible cause aside from heredity is autoimmune reactions. Experts believe that this can be possibly caused as a secondary effect to the body’s own immune system attacking certain areas of the brain that is responsible for the production of orexin. However, even with this possible cause of narcolepsy, narcolepsy is still one of the many sleep disorders that has an unknown proven cause for its symptoms and for its development.