In a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, researchers found that narcolepsy impacts men and women’s health and lifestyle differently, and may cause delays in diagnosis for women.

This study supports the necessity for consideration of sex in narcolepsy research, say authors Christine Won, MD, MS; Mandana Mahmoudi, MD; Li Qin, PhD; Taylor Purvis, BA; Aditi Mathur, MD; and Vahid Mohsenin, MD, FAASM, of Yale University.

Some of the study’s highlights include:

  • 85% of men were likely to be diagnosed by 16 years after symptom onset, compared to 28 years in women.
  • Women are more likely to self-medicate their narcolepsy symptoms with caffeine.
  • Men were more likely to report problems with personal relationships and more likely to experience a negative impact on their physical activity (even while women had more severe findings on the multiple sleep latency test).
  • There were few differences in clinical presentation of men and women with narcolepsy, except that women had a trend toward greater cataplexy.