In Nature, Emmanuel Mignot applauds Henry Nicholls’s personal and scientific account of narcolepsy and beyond.
Nicholls does much to dispel misconceptions of narcolepsy. Aside from overwhelming sleep attacks, the disease is characterized by disturbed sleep with dream-like hallucinations and sleep paralysis. Cataplexy — sudden episodes of muscle weakness typically triggered by emotions such as mirth — is another symptom that, with hynogogic hallucinations (on falling asleep), is thought to be behind the strange experience of sleep-stage dissociation: in this, a person is conscious and awake, but in REM sleep. Nicholls poignantly describes the devastating effects of narcolepsy on personal relationships, education and work, putting into context the huge cost of misdiagnoses.