Narcolepsy treatment: pharmacological and behavioral strategies in adults and children

  • Christian Franceschini
  • Fabio Pizza
  • Elena Antelmi
  • Maria Claudia Folli
  • Giuseppe PlazziEmail author
Neurology • Review
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Excessive Daytime Sleepiness


Narcolepsy is a disabling, rare, and chronic sleep disorder, currently classified as distinct central nervous system hypersomnia in narcolepsy type 1 (NT1) and narcolepsy type 2 (NT2). Although today a reliable pathogenic hypothesis identifies the cause of NT1 as an autoimmune process destroying hypocretin-producing cells, there is no cure for narcolepsy, and the symptomatic pharmacological available treatments are not entirely effective for all symptoms. Behavioral therapies play a synergistic role in the disease treatment. We here review the available therapeutic options for narcolepsy, including symptomatic pharmacological treatments as well as behavioral and psychosocial interventions that could help clinicians improve the quality of life of patients with narcolepsy in adulthood and childhood.


Narcolepsy Adults Children Pharmacological treatment Psychological treatment Behavioral treatment 



Huge gratitude must be recognized to the memory of President of AIN, Icilio Ceretelli, who opened many eyes about real everyday challenges that narcoleptic patients and their families have to face and provided every person in need with the support they deserve.


This work was supported by the FFABR (Franceschini).

Compliance with ethical standards 

The work is a literature review and complied with the tenets of the Declaration of Helsinki, as well as with the ethical standards of the journal.

Conflict of interest

 Giuseppe Plazzi participated in advisory board for UCB Pharma, Jazz pharmaceuticals, Bioprojet, and Idorsia outside the submitted work. The other authors have no potential financial conflict of interest to disclose.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Medicine and SurgeryUniversity of ParmaParmaItaly
  2. 2.Department of Biomedical and Neuromotor Sciences, Alma Mater StudiorumUniversity of BolognaBolognaItaly
  3. 3.IRCCS Istituto delle Scienze Neurologiche di BolognaBolognaItaly

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