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Take Care of Your Body

Since studies show that narcolepsy is associated with higher rates of certain medical conditions, people with narcolepsy may want to pay extra attention to their overall health. As shown on the Overall Health in Narcolepsy page of this website, an increased rate of cardiovascular conditions has been reported.

Some risk factors for cardiovascular disease are considered "modifiable," which means that you may be
able to limit their impact on your health.

Don’t smoke!
Smoking is a key risk factor for cardiovascular disease. So if you don’t smoke, don’t start.
If you do, quit.
Get some physical activity

A sedentary lifestyle is a common risk factor for cardiovascular disease, including stroke. Physical activity has been shown to help prevent cardiovascular disease among the general population and may improve outcomes for people who already have cardiovascular disease.

What’s more, physical activity may help you temporarily control the urge to sleep in narcolepsy. So it's a win-win!

Eat a heart-healthy diet

Plant-based diets—ie, those with limited amounts of animal products—have been associated with lower risk of cardiovascular diseases in the general population. A healthy diet should:

Include plenty of:
  • Whole grains
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Nuts and legumes
  • Dietary fiber
  • High unsaturated fat
Limit intake of:
  • Meats
  • Saturated fat
  • Processed meats
  • Added sugars
  • Sodium
Watch your sodium intake

Consuming too much sodium may increase the risk of high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and stroke. Sodium intake is a modifiable risk factor, so you can limit your sodium intake by being aware of how much sodium your diet and medications contain.

Americans generally consume too much sodium—more than 3400 mg a day on average—even though the US Department of Health and Human Services recommends consuming no more than 2300 mg per day. Also, the American Heart Association suggests that 1500 mg per day or less is the ideal target for sodium intake.

Besides getting sodium from what you eat and drink, prescription and over-the-counter medications can also contain sodium. Talk to your doctor about how you can reduce your sodium consumption.

Consider your overall
well-being
Chronic conditions, including narcolepsy, can affect a person's mental and physical health, including mood, emotional health, and overall functioning. Narcolepsy can have negative effects on personal and social relationships, so having conversations with family and friends may help you feel supported.

Besides getting sodium from what you eat and drink, prescription and over-the-counter medications can also contain sodium. Talk to your doctor about how you can reduce your sodium consumption.

Along with finding the right diagnosis and treatment option, diet, exercise, and other healthy lifestyle habits may play important roles in helping people with narcolepsy manage their condition.
READ NEXT: Treatment Options