Well, I was about 16, so I'd just

Well, I was about 16, so I'd just
started doing my AS-levels.

The main thing was I just started
falling asleep randomly.

When I was younger, I used to be able
to fall asleep in the car easily,

but it was one of those things you don't
notice or pay much attention to.

But that was the main thing,
the sleep attacks.

Narcolepsy is a condition
where the brain loses its ability...

..to control the switch
between being asleep and being awake.

All animals need to sleep.

But narcoleptic patients
have lost the ability

to get into deep sleep
and stay asleep.

The sleep's fragmented and broken up.

The consequence of that
is the following day,

they're very, very tired and the
pressure to sleep then builds up.

Phenomena normally associated
with sleep and sleepiness

intrude into normal daytime activities.

The first symptoms I started to notice

was feeling a lot more tired
than I usually do during the day

and falling asleep at random points.

Sleep paralysis was another one.

Waking up in the morning and not being
able to move was quite disorientating

and kind of scary, to be honest.

There is a genetic predisposition
to narcolepsy.

Certain genes have been identified

that are far more common
in patients with narcolepsy.

That said, having those genes, you're
more likely not to have narcolepsy

than to have it.

The incidence in the general population

is between one in 2,000
and one in 5,000,

but up to a third of us
have these genes.

It happened pretty much anywhere.

It would happen while I was eating
my dinner or in the shower

or at college in a lesson.

It did get to be a bit of a problem,
really,

because I was falling asleep at school
at lot more than, well, anyone would,

so I was missing out on a lot of work.

Treatments for narcolepsy
have improved in recent years.

Traditionally, they centre around drugs
to promote wakefulness, stimulants,

initially amphetamines
and amphetamine-like drugs.

But more recently, drugs that are much
safer and much less addictive

that also promote wakefulness
are available.

I get a good night's sleep

and then take my tablets in the morning
and another one in the afternoon.

I'm usually sleep attack-free
throughout the day

which is a lot better
than it used to be.

The support of my friends
and family was a major factor in it.

Obviously, you do have bad days

where you think, "The world's against
me," and everything like that.

But if you've got
some really good people behind you,

then that makes a big difference.

Patients perhaps become better
at living with it as they get older.

Sleep requirements change with age.

So, yes, the apparent severity of it
can diminish with time.

But I think a major factor of that

is that patients just become better
at dealing with it

and managing their own condition.

Well, I've just finished my A-levels
so I'll be getting my results in August.

I'm planning to go to university
in October.

So, big changes,
but I've just got to adapt my lifestyle

to what I'm doing at that point, really.

Adaptation, with this condition,
you kind of get used to it.

Change isn't necessarily bad,
so you just get on with it.