Here’s what it looks like when someone has narcolepsy — it’s nothing like the movies.

Narcolepsy is a complex, sometimes debilitating condition.

If you’ve ever seen narcolepsy in the movies or on TV, it’s usually played for a laugh — someone stumbling or falling asleep without warning. But in reality, it’s no joke.

It’s a chronic disorder where the brain has a hard time controlling sleep and wake cycles.

Sleep can strike without warning, and these “attacks” can last several minutes. People with narcolepsy may also experience cataplexy, a sudden loss of muscle tone, causing them to go limp or experience temporary paralysis.

Sarah Elizabeth is just one of nearly 3 million people battling narcolepsy worldwide.

While recording an instructional video for a dance routine on her web cam, Sarah unintentionally captured a bout of sleep attacks and cataplexy. To shed some light on this often misunderstood disorder, Sarah decided to share the video.

Here’s cataplexy:

All images via Sarah Elizabeth.

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And here’s a sleep attack:

In the YouTube comments, Sarah describes what she calls “microsleep” and “memory bobbles.”

Memory bobbles are instances when she loses her train of thought or zones out for long stretches of time. Like so:

First-person accounts like these are the key to empathy when it comes to understanding how people with narcolepsy experience the world.

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