People tired due to narcolepsy symptoms 2

“What is EDS, and why am I always so tired?”

How narcolepsy patients with excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) present.

Narcolepsy patients may describe EDS in various terms.1-4

  • Frequently, they do not use words such as “sleepiness” or “drowsiness.”2-4
    • Instead, they may complain of vague symptoms such as “tiredness” or “fatigue.”2-4
  • The first challenge for the clinician is to distinguish “sleepiness” from “fatigue.”3
    • Fatigue is described as a feeling of tiredness, lack of energy, or general sense of exhaustion.2,3
    • Sleepiness is the inability to avoid falling asleep.3
  • Patients with EDS may also appear depressed or irritable.2,3
  • A comprehensive sleep history is the most important aspect in evaluating EDS.3

Presentation of EDS may vary in children.

  • In an effort to cope or counteract sleepiness, children may become aggressive, emotional, irritable, distractible, or hyperactive.5-7
  • Caregivers may say their child always feels tired or falls asleep randomly or at unusual or unexpected times.8
    • One way to assess is to ask for recent examples of the child falling asleep suddenly and unexpectedly.
  • EDS can be misinterpreted as simply a need to nap in younger children or as laziness in older children.9
  • Different sleep duration in children may make it more difficult to assess how much they sleep.9.10

Terms to listen for in taking the history of a patient who may have EDS.

Patients or caregivers may describe EDS as...

  • Mental fog11
  • Abnormal feelings of fuzziness or grogginess2
  • Difficulties with memory, concentration, and attention2,3
  • Hyperactivity, poor concentration, and “bad behavior” in children10
Key questions for evaluating excessive sleepiness.
Key questions for evaluating excessive sleepiness.

Key questions for evaluating excessive sleepiness.

It may be helpful to ask...2

  • Does the sleepiness occur only when in a quiet situation or also when the patient is active?
  • What is the patient’s sleep-wake schedule (what time does he or she go to bed and get up on weekdays and weekends)?
  • Does the sleepiness occur during situations that would compromise safety?
  • Are there other sleep features that may identify the cause of sleepiness?
  • Does the patient take naps?
  • What medications is the patient taking?

Interested in more insights?

Find out how patients talk about EDS in their own words.

These videos represent actual patients and caregivers describing EDS using their own words. Not all patient experiences will be the same.
EDS may affect your patients in many ways.