The Psychosocial Impact of Sleepiness In a Large African-American Family With Several Narcoleptic Members

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

John Harsh

Advisor Department



The objective of this research was to assess the psychosocial impact of sleepiness associated with narcolepsy. The specific research question addressed was: What differences exist between sleepy family members, non-sleepy family members, and community controls on measures of depression, anxiety, mood, social support, coping, and self-efficacy? More specifically, the purpose of this study was to assess the psychosocial impact of sleepiness associated with narcolepsy and to investigate variables which could mediate this impact. Excessive daytime sleepiness is an integral component of the narcolepsy syndrome with important epidemiological, diagnostic, and treatment implications. In this research pathological sleepiness was found to be related to familial narcolepsy. Data from psychosocial measures suggested sleepiness in this family was associated with psychological functioning. Sleepy family members were found to have significantly higher levels of depression, anxiety, and overall affective disturbance than non-sleepy family members and community controls. Evidence of mediating variables including social support, coping style, and self-efficacy was not found. Significant quality of life differences between the sleepy and non-sleepy family members were not found. Hypotheses for the differences found in psychological outcome variables were explored. These hypotheses include anxiety and depression as an endogenous expression of the narcolepsy syndrome; as a consequence of suffering from a chronic debilitating illness; and as a causal factor.