a woman napping in a chair in her living room next to her TV tray of eaten food

Eating With Narcolepsy Makes Me Tired

Last updated: April 2023

Long gone are the days where I could eat a full breakfast and feel energized for the day. At the onset of my narcolepsy symptoms, I noticed that my brain fog and excessive daytime sleepiness were at their worst after eating. Over time I’ve noticed that certain foods worsen my symptoms more so than eating in general did.

Limiting sugar as much as possible

Sugary foods are bound to give me sleep attacks. I actually save these foods for when I know it’s time for bed or I know I don’t have anything going on for the rest of the day and can nap the effects off.

This includes foods like donuts, cakes, ice cream, popsicles, cookies, and more. Overall, I try to limit these in my diet as much as I can, but when I do indulge in sugary foods I have to be prepared to plan around my worsened narcolepsy symptoms.

This or That

Have you noticed any specific food triggers that worsen your narcolepsy symptoms (e.g., increased sleepiness, fatigue)?

Simple carbohydrates increase my sleepiness

Foods that are primarily made up of simple carbohydrates like white bread, pasta, white rice, crackers, and chips can make my excessive daytime sleepiness worse. It is important for me to limit these snacks to special occasions and be ready for their effects to kick in.

Usually I end up extremely tired after eating these kinds of foods. It helps to limit my portions of these if I do decide to consume them; my increase in symptoms is not as severe and does not last as long. Speaking of portion sizes…

Sticking to smaller portions

Smaller portion sizes help to keep my energy levels more stable throughout the day. I’ve noticed that large portion sizes may leave me feeling more satisfied in the moment, but my narcolepsy symptoms tend to be worsened and this causes my energy levels to drop quickly. When I keep my portions on the small side, my stamina is ultimately increased. Try to make sense of that!

Maintaining a meal schedule

I try to eat the bulk of my calories after 4 PM. This is for a few reasons; the primary reason is that I eat very little during the day, relying on protein bars to satiate my hunger so that I have energy. Protein is a great source of energy for me, and one that I use often.

Once I eat dinner at 4 PM, there isn’t much more I can do for the evening due to my sleepiness being so severe. However, if I eat evenly throughout the day, then I will be tired throughout the day. This is a trade-off that I’m willing to make, for now. If I ever find a better eating schedule that works for my narcolepsy, I will be sure to update our community with those details!

Managing my diet helps me live around my narcolepsy

Narcolepsy is a difficult disease to live with for many reasons. People who suffer from narcolepsy find themselves experiencing a variety of symptoms such as sleep attacks, chronic fatigue, cataplexy, and more.

While eating a certain way has not cured my narcolepsy, it has helped me find ways to live around it without fighting it. When I am fighting my narcolepsy, I am fighting myself.

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