Meet Lauren Thomas!
Lauren Thomas is an advocate, a daughter, and a friend living with narcolepsy with cataplexy. She was diagnosed with narcolepsy at age 28 after a long journey of misdiagnosed symptoms, which is why she is passionate about sharing her story and resources to help others make their situation a little better.
Lauren’s journey began in high school navigating the mental health system and receiving diagnoses including depression, anxiety, and ADHD. Looking back, Lauren believes her sleepiness may have been written off as a symptom of depression, with subsequent medications negatively affecting her well-being and spiraling to more misdiagnoses and more medications.
While in college, a serious health concern along with significant weight gain made it clear to Lauren that it was no longer only her mental health at stake, but also her physical health. After graduating college, Lauren’s endocrinologist referred her for a sleep study at the Cornell Sleep Center, resulting in her narcolepsy diagnosis in early 2019.
Since her diagnosis, Lauren has quickly become a leading voice sharing her story of living with invisible illness via NPR, Project Sleep’s Narcolepsy Nerd Alert Series, Wake Up Narcolepsy’s Narcolepsy 360 podcast, and Instagram. She has also educated her representatives on the importance of sleep disorders research and awareness.
It’s important for me to raise my voice because I have everything to gain and nothing to lose. My diagnoses have come from my family’s and my hard-fought efforts and advocacy, not some medical miracle. When you have to beg for quality care in one of the wealthiest countries in the world, something is very wrong. This system is broken and not just for me.”
Lauren and her family are strong advocates for World Narcolepsy Day. In 2020, Lauren served on Project Sleep’s World Narcolepsy Day Committee and worked alongside her father, Isiah Thomas, and TV producers to raise significant awareness during Isiah’s appearance on TNT’s The Arena on World Narcolepsy Day. For World Narcolepsy Day 2021, the Thomas family championed awareness on social media and Lauren helped secure a very special World Narcolepsy Day shout-out on NBA TV’s ticker!