What Are the Causes of Narcolepsy?

What Are the Causes of Narcolepsy?

Millions of people around the world have narcolepsy, a brain disorder that makes them fall asleep during the day. Individuals are aware of the symptoms of narcolepsy, but experts are still trying to figure out what causes it. This piece talks about the different theory-based ideas that have been put forward as possible causes of narcolepsy.

Genetic Factors

Genetics may play a big role in narcolepsy, according to a study. According to researchers, narcolepsy runs in families and makes them more likely to get the problem themselves. One specific link between narcolepsy risk factors and changes in genes that control when we sleep and wake up is in genes that code for neurotransmitters that affect how alert we are.

Family Background

Those who have a history of narcolepsy in their family are more likely to develop the disorder themselves.

Genetic Differences

It has been found that some genetic differences make people more likely to get narcolepsy. Often, these differences are found in genes that control when you sleep and wake up and make neurotransmitters. 

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HLA Genes

Some variations of the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) genes have been linked to a higher chance of narcolepsy. These genes are connected to the immune system and might help with the autoimmune part of the disease.

Brain Chemistry

The changes in chemicals in the brain are another important cause of narcolepsy. One neurotransmitter that is important for both controlling sleep periods and staying awake is hypocretin, which is sometimes called orexin. Hypocretin deficiency is common in people with narcolepsy and can mess up their sleep-wake cycle and make it hard for them to stay awake during the day.

Autoimmune Factors

There may be an autoimmune factor included in the causes of narcolepsy. The immune system kills the brain cells that make hypocretin, which leads to acute autoimmune narcolepsy. When the body’s immune system attacks healthy cells, hypoproteinemia can happen. This can lead to signs of narcolepsy. Researchers still don’t know exactly what the causes of narcolepsyare, but they think that genetics and environmental factors work together.

Environmental Triggers

Aspects of the environment may also have an impact on narcolepsy. It is possible for individuals who are predisposed to narcolepsy to develop the disorder after being exposed to harmful substances or contracting an infection. Take the H1N1 flu as an example. Studies show that it can cause sleepiness in some people by causing an immune response. Environmental toxins and pollutants may also play a part in how those who are genetically more likely to get the illness get it.


Multiple underlying reasons contribute to the complexity of narcolepsy. Although environmental triggers, autoimmune systems, genetics, and brain chemistry all play a part in its development, researchers are still trying to pin down exactly how these elements interact with one another. Researchers have high hopes that by learning more about the causes of narcolepsy, they will be able to develop interventions and treatments that will improve the lives of those who suffer from this disorder.

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