Sometimes the sleep of collapsed narcoleptic dogs is real sleep, but often the excited narcoleptic dog collapses into a catatonic state — one where she is awake, and aware of what’s going on around her, but utterly unable to move. The catatonic dog loses all muscle tone, much as happens to humans and other mammals in normal REM-stage sleep. (When you’re sleeping, that’s OK. Not so when you’re driving on the highway.)
The adorable Doxie mix in the second half of the Stanford video below is a textbook case of the floppy wet noodle quality of catatonia. She’s apparently fully aware of being like a rag doll, but can do nothing about it. Poor little pup! At last she’s in the very knowledgeable and gentle hands of Dr. Emmanuel Mignot, probably the world’s foremost expert in the field.
You can read more about canine narcolepsy and its genetic links in this K9 Perspective article. Check out this easy-to-understand article from Science News about narcolepsy in general, should you want to learn more.