Contestant May Have Narcolepsy on So You Think You Can Dance

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So You Think You Can Dance is my favorite television show. I was surprised to learn that one of this season’s contestants may have narcolepsy.

On last night’s episode (Wednesday June, 15th 2011), each contestant had 8 seconds to list interesting traits about themselves. During Melanie Moore’s 8 second interview, she said:

“I’m Melanie Moore, age 19, Marietta Georgia, I love chocolate chip cookies, I collect nail polish, I used to wear a helmet because I was narcoleptic, and I really want to be on Ellen…”

Melanie’s phrasing – “I used to wear a helmet because I was narcoleptic” leaves me uncertain if she has narcolepsy or not. Narcolepsy is a chronic autoimmune neurological disorder, thus if she was accurately diagnosed with narcolepsy, she would still have the condition.  

Also, I have not heard of anyone wearing a helmet for narcolepsy, but maybe this would be a form of protection if she has severe episodes of cataplexy (a form of muscle paralysis/loss of muscle tone unique to some people with narcolepsy).

To my knowledge, this was the first time Melanie mentioned narcolepsy on the show.  Maybe with a little more explanation, this will make more sense.  Obviously, she was rushing because she only had 8 seconds to describe herself.

If Melanie Moore does have narcolepsy, I hope it will be discussed much more, as she would be an incredible role model for the many children and young adults with narcolepsy!

Regardless, she is a beautiful talented dancer and I wish her the best of luck this season. I will keep you posted if I hear more.

Here is her breathtaking routine with Marko from last night:



  1. Saraiah on June 16, 2011 at 11:11 pm

    Unless my memory is playing tricks on me (again), I believe I read somewhere that when the symptoms of "secondary narcolepsy" are caused by brain injury, they can sometimes resolve over time if the brain heals itself sufficiently. As you mentioned, that's not at all possible with autoimmune-caused hypocretin-deficient "primary narcolepsy."
    Terminology can get confusing, since there are actually a number of different clinical diagnoses which contain the word "narcolepsy," all with similar symptoms, but with different (and sometimes unknown) etiologies.

  2. REM Runner on June 17, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    Thank you, Saraiah, for your comment. You've raised a great point about the possibility that Melanie may have had Secondary Narcolepsy. I hadn't thought of this. Thanks for this important contribution to the discussion. I hope to know more soon to share!

  3. Gail on June 19, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    Amazing and moving dance performance. I rarely watch the show but you have peaked my interest. I love the music chosen for the modern ballet dance. Thank you for sharing your diverse interests with your friend's and blog fans!

  4. Anonymous on August 11, 2011 at 3:14 pm

    She said "Marietta Georgia" not " married in Georgia".

  5. REM Runner on August 13, 2011 at 9:24 am

    Thank you, reader, for this comment clarifying where she's from. I will change this in my post. Did anyone understand the bit where (I believe) she said she wore a helmet because she was narcoleptic?

  6. Scott on August 14, 2011 at 10:51 am

    I just saw that Ms. Moore won the competition. Congrats to her! A quick googling didn't reveal any more news or interviews of her discussing Narcolepsy. I wish a reporter would ask her about it!

  7. Made by Michelle on September 11, 2011 at 11:28 pm

    I must've missed that episode; I don't watch regularly.

    I'm skeptical because of the "used to" part, but I don't know much about secondary narcolepsy. This is the first I've heard it mentioned, actually. I do have a friend diagnosed with trauma-induced narcolepsy after a car accident, but it's a chronic condition for her.

    I wish she'd give more information somewhere. I'm very curious now, and I'm worried the helmet reference will just perpetuate the Deuce Bigalow stereotype of the girl drowning in her soup.

    Have you learned anything new since then?

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