Narcolepsy Work Accommodations

By May 7, 2018 No Comments

One of the biggest challenges in my life has been aligning my narcolepsy with my work. I’m sure you’ve struggled with narcolepsy work accommodations as well. My path to finding narcolepsy work accommodations has been everything but a straight path. The first full-time job I had straight out of college I had to quit due to my narcolepsy.  I’ve bounced around from industry to industry in search of the best fit for employment and this sleeping disorder. This journey has included working in the non-profit sector with AmeriCorps, working as a server in the restaurant industry, working for a digital agency in the tech field,  all the way to working online for myself. There are a few things that I’ve learned along the way that I want to share with you.


Narcolepsy Work Accommodations


Under the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972, you are protected under the law from discrimination due to narcolepsy. Furthermore, an employer is required to provide you with “reasonable accommodations” for your work. This term reasonable accommodation is open to interpretation. If you have a conflict with your employer, I suggest contacting a lawyer who specializes in workplace discrimination for support or in ada accommodations for narcolepsy.


Here are my suggested narcolepsy work accommodations to ask your employer for:


Scheduled Naps – Regimenting your sleep schedule is one of the most powerful forms of holistic treatment for narcolepsy out there. Looking for more information on this process? Head on over to Julie Flygare’s post on hunting for a nap room.

Standing desk –  A standing desk can help you maintain alertness and be a great tool to combat your EDS (excessive daytime sleepiness).

Walking Desk –  Another tool that helps with EDS. A bit more effective than the standing desk if you ask me.

UV Light – Applying constant signals to your body that you should be awake has been incredibly effective for me. One of the ways I do this is by using a UV light at work.


Ada Accommodations for Narcolepsy



My Narcolepsy Work Accommodations


As of writing this, I use four main tools to help myself stay alert at work. They would be our “standing bar” or the standing desk that’s mounted to the wall that anyone can use. It’s not adjustable, or movable, but it gets the job done. Second would be my kneeling chair. This chair not only helps my posture but it also engages my core while working which helps with my EDS. On top of those devices, I take at least two walks on a daily basis. Lastly, I use this UV light.



Narcolepsy Work Accommodations


Narcolepsy Work Script


Wondering exactly how to communicate your situation to management? I got you covered.

Here’s exactly what I sent to one of my employers:

Hey Team!

Peter here.
I just wanted to inform you guys on something about me.
I have the sleeping disorder narcolepsy.
If you want to know more about the disease or how it affects me feel free to ask!
(I’m not shy about it)
However, It does affect me at work sometimes.  
One of the side effects is EDS or excessive daytime sleepiness.
One of the ways I combat this is by exercising in the middle of the day.
So if you see me doing Kettle Bell swings in the kitchen, or continuously doing calf raises at the standing desk that’s what’s going on! From time to time I may be taking power naps to help with the symptoms as well.
If any of my exercises are a distraction please let me know and I’ll be sure to adjust my schedule 🙂


Please feel free to repurpose this email any way you see fit.  The best approach I have found when it comes to working is being transparent. Don’t be afraid to talk about your disease.


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