Tips for Nights Out With Narcolepsy
In a previous post, I spoke about my experiences of nights out and drinking alcohol. I've struggled with it and, at times, put myself in dangerous situations. Along the way, I have learned a lot of lessons and thought I would share some tips about keeping yourself safe on a night out.
These are things that I now try to do if I go on a night out and I'm drinking alcohol.
Check any medication interactions
First and foremost, if drinking alcohol, it's essential to check your medication to see if they interact with alcohol. Specific medication interactions mean that you cannot drink any alcohol at all. Others may be okay to take whilst drinking alcohol but may cause impairments. It may mean that you feel the effects of alcohol more quickly and/or after a smaller amount.
It's also important to be aware that if you have drunk alcohol before you were on medication, the way that you handle alcohol may now be different. For example, your tolerance may now be lower, or you may see personality changes. It's something to be aware of – it was something I had never even considered. I became more emotional and irritable after the same amount of alcohol I would have drunk before being on medication.
Know your limits and stick to them
For anybody drinking alcohol, it's important to know your limits. For those of us with narcolepsy, it's even more critical. It can be hard to figure out, but it's essential to know. Drinking a lot and socialising can result in us being extra tired and sleepy.
If you know your limit of 4 drinks, you may be tempted to push it and have another drink. It may seem harmless, but 1 more drink may result in more significant impairments and increased sleepiness, potentially putting you in an unsafe situation. It's also important to know when to call it a night. If your sleepiness is too much, it's important to know that's it's okay to call it a night.
Go out with people you know and trust
If going on a night out and drinking, especially in bars and clubs, it's important to go out with people you trust. It's beneficial if these people are aware of your narcolepsy. These people will know then to keep an extra lookout for you and potentially look for signs when you're becoming extra sleepy.
It's crucial so that these people know not to leave you on your own when you're incredibly vulnerable. People who will sit with you if you are falling asleep, not people who will wander off and leave you alone. Also, people who know that sometimes you may need to cut the night short and are okay with that.
Go to the toilet with friends
Going to the toilet with friends is actually a really important thing for me when in clubs and bars. If I go to the toilet on my own and I've been drinking, I can often end up passing out and falling asleep. If someone is there waiting for you, they will be able to check you're okay. If you go alone, friends may not be aware of how much time has passed since you've been gone.
Also, a common thing for girls to do on a night out is actually sharing a cubicle. This is 100 percent the best thing for me to do, as keeping chatting to someone will reduce my chances of falling asleep. Not everyone is comfortable with this, though, so someone standing outside will be helpful.
Don't travel home alone
If you can avoid it, don't travel home alone. After a night of drinking, sitting in a taxi can result in falling asleep in the taxi. Traveling with someone else means that they can keep an eye on you.
If you have no other option than to travel home alone, share your location/taxi journey with somebody. Uber (and I'm sure many others) have a feature where you can share your trip with one of your contacts. They will be able to see your journey, keep an eye on you, and know when to expect you home.
Don't cook when you get home
When I've been drinking alcohol, I am always so hungry. If I haven't got food after the night out, I will eat things at home. I've attempted to cook chips before, which didn't go well as I fell asleep while they were cooking. This can be extremely dangerous, and it scared me a little when it happened.
It is not worth the risk at all. You could prepare some food before you go out. You don't need to worry about potentially setting the house on fire after your night out!
These are just a few of my top tips for a night out with narcolepsy. They may not be helpful for everyone, but they are a few things that I have learned along the way! Reminder: only drink if you feel comfortable with it and drink responsibly!
How would you describe your relationship with your doctor?