Family member falls asleep at the wheel!

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I have a family member that falls asleep , during the day . She will be very alert one minute and then in just a flash she will be asleep where ever she might be or what ever she might be doing .She had her grown son in the car with her and they were talking , she was driving and just went to sleep .He thought she was lookin down at something and a car was coming and he hollered at her which woke her, but this is happening more and more . She is only 48 yrs old . What causes this ? Thank you

A: Your relative may be suffering from narcolepsy. This is a sleep disorder that is characterized by overwhelming sleepiness during the day that causes the person to fall asleep in unexpected and often inappropriate places. In your relative’s case, this has become dangerous! She needs to see a doctor to get a diagnosis and treatment. Fortunately, there are medications that can be helpful.

Here is a web site where you can get more information:
narcolepsy information

Please do what you can to get your family member the help she needs before she hurts herself or someone else.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 2 Nov 2007

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2007). Family member falls asleep at the wheel!. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 18, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2007/11/02/family-member-falls-asleep-at-the-wheel/