Narcolepsy management in Australia: time to wake up

Sheila Sivam, Ksenia Chamula, John Swieca, Simon Frenkel and Bandana Saini
Med J Aust 2021; 215 (2): . || doi: 10.5694/mja2.51150
Published online: 19 July 2021

Australia’s narcolepsy management is inadequate by international standards and should be aligned with that of other first class health services

Narcolepsy types 1 and 2 and idiopathic hypersomnia are central disorders of hypersomnolence. Narcolepsy type 1 is a debilitating disorder of hypersomnolence, associated with selective loss or dysfunction of orexinergic (hypocretinergic) neurons in the hypothalamus.1 Patients with narcolepsy type 1 experience cataplexy and may also demonstrate hypnagogic hallucinations, sleep fragmentation and sleep paralysis. Narcolepsy type 2 may be caused by less extensive injury to orexinergic neurons and is not associated with cataplexy. A diagnosis of narcolepsy is associated with a substantial adverse impact on mental health, health‐related quality of life impairment, long term disability, absenteeism and greater use of health care resources including increased frequency of hospitalisation and emergency department and specialist visits.2,3

  • 1 Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney, NSW
  • 2 Woolcock Institute of Medical Research, Sydney, NSW
  • 3 SleepDoctors Australia, Melbourne, VIC
  • 4 Melbourne Sleep Disorders Centre, Melbourne, VIC
  • 5 Western Health, Melbourne, VIC
  • 6 University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW


Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.

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