Maurice Ohayon, MD, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences from Stanford University, provides a brief overview of narcolepsy.

Narcolepsy is a rare disorder characterized by excessive sleepiness during the day, often with periods of brief involuntary sleep and/or cataplexy. The prevalence of the condition is not known but the US Food and Drug Administration does consider it a rare condition and at present, there are 16 medications that have been given orphan drug designation for this condition.

The pathophysiology of narcolepsy is believed to involve a reduction in the levels of orexin A and orexin B, especially in persons with narcolepsy type I, the more severe form of the condition—best characterized by excessive sleepiness and cataplexy. The less severe form, narcolepsy type 2, has not been shown to have a close correlation with lower orexin A or B levels. 

Oxerins are involved in a number of central functions, including those involved with wakefulness and REM sleep. The discovery that these peptides are implicated in narcolepsy has garnered a plethora of research and drug development that has helped health professionals manage persons with narcolepsy.  

To learn more about the latest research involving narcolepsy and obtain CME credit, visit