Narcolepsy is a neurological disorder that causes daytime sleepiness, hallucinations, sleep paralysis and episodes of suddenly falling asleep. Narcolepsy is not completely understood, but researchers continue to look for the cause (or causes) in order to better understand the condition.
Theories about Narcolepsy While no root cause of narcolepsy is known, evidence suggests that narcolepsy could be genetic in origin. Physicians studying the disorder believe that genes in affected individuals involve the chemicals produced by the brain to control the waking and sleeping cycles. Theoretically, if the brain becomes confused or produces the chemicals that tell the brain to sleep during waking hours, it could cause the sudden paralysis and falling asleep even as the body is doing other things such as driving a car or cooking a meal.
Other scientists believe that a lack of hypocretin production in the body could lead to a disruption in sleep patterns such as those seen in narcoleptics. Brain abnormalities are also being explored as a cause of narcolepsy, particularly abnormalities in the brain structures that regulate different portions of the sleep cycle. Researchers agree that narcolepsy is a neurological problem and relates to a problem in the brain chemistry of affected individuals; however they have yet to pinpoint a verifiable cause.