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SummaryNarcolepsy is a neurological condition with a prevalence of up to 1 per 1,000 that is characterized by irresistible bouts of sleep. Associated features include the pathological manifestations of rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep: cataplexy, sleep paralysis, hypnagogic hallucinations, and abnormal sleep-onset REM periods and disturbed nocturnal sleep. The condition is strongly associated with the HLA-DR2 and DQwl phenotype. The phenomenology of narcolepsy is discussed, and diagnostic procedures are reviewed. Treatment modalities involving central nervous system stimulants for somnolence and tricyclic drugs for REM-sleep abnormalities are discussed. Sleep laboratory studies on the treatment efficacy of methylphenidate, pemoline, dextroamphetamine, protriptyline, and viloxazine are presented. Data suggest that: (1) methylphenidate and dextroamphetamine objectively improve somnolence; (2) pemoline, at doses up to 112.5 mg, is less effective in controlling somnolence but may improve certain aspects of performance; and (3) protriptyline and viloxazine are effective anticataplectic agents that produce little improvement in somnolence.

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