To respond first to Examino. I second what you say entirely. Sleep Paralysis sort of effect for sure could be. Sometimes I'll feel drunk physically, like my balance is off and I stumble or sort of stagger; but that hasn't happened for a while, thankfully. The lethargy, cloud weight like, body feel though does happen at times.
Meds have not helped 'me', I've not tried many but have not had success, if anything for me they just sort of scattered effects of one thing with another, not eliminating any of it nor helping in a manner that was worthwhile for me. Xyrem I do not think I can take, as I have minimal-moderate Central Sleep Apnea which relates to breathing and such is a no no, from my understanding relating to Xyrem; it has never been offered and I have no interest. What has helped me the most, is avoiding stress and anxiety along with strict diet yet that is fine because I cook near everything that I eat and am a good cook.! Finances are stress and build anxiety, being income-less and helping my incredible Mother, who helps me, is all that I've been able to manage, even through my 20's when I had more functional abilities/capabilities...
Below; I'm only speaking from my own experiences and I'm not a sleep specialist nor doctor.
I have read a lot, for years now, relating though because Cataplexy effects me and interferes with my life more than the common EDS although I do experience that too...
'Cataplexy does not come out of no where.' If there is no triggering emotion, then it is not likely to be Cataplexy.
Now, emotions can be vast and broad in a multitude of ways. That is to say though, that perhaps if you're physically weak (central fatigue, for instance) or some other matter like blood sugar or something is effecting you, to a point that it is causing a sudden sort of panic attack; that is emotion, yet Cataplexy is specific to being triggered and hits in a fast occurring manner 'typically'. There is no 'Normal' in my mind, perhaps due to N w/ C and the complexity.
I do think though, that it can be a lingering flickering, especially if one fights it.
It effects each and every person with it, differently in ways, thus it is very hard to explain and also perhaps easily confused with other occurrences.
There is 'clear-cut Cataplexy' which I believe is the person collapsing, near immediately, after some funny or emotional response; the person is basically paralyzed briefly, or for some they fall into actual REM sleep when it occurs and awaken when they awaken.
Generally (as is in my case) the person can hear, think and often see to some extent, they just can not move.
My Cataplexy occurrences are always in some response to either something very funny or at times from silly frustrations (that is usually just to do with, how, can they not understand what I've stated as clearly as I can) but as I said in the earlier post 90-95% of the time it is, simply the pleasures. If I collapse, I am usually up in less than 20-25 seconds, unless there is something funny continuing or other reacting oddly, intensifying it.
Also, Cataplexy can be just a flicker, a bobbing of the head, or the weakness of some body part; for years I managed to keep skateboarding a lot, if I landed a trick I'd often have to step off the board and pause, while looking downward because my face was basically spasming and my neck/head/face muscles were gone. Dropping things or being unable to maintain something in your hand, happens too.
Examples of triggers for me. Funny things which another has said or done, perhaps something I've said that is funny, at times very cute kitten/cat behavior has triggered it, doing something very nice for another and that spurt of joy during the interaction moment triggers it, silly/odd stuff like opening a door and someone being on the other side about to open the door, someone smiling at me unexpectedly, landing a trick I've been really wanting to learn (when I skated more that happened more), people hollering as/after I land some trick skateboarding...
Watching funny shows like Curb your Enthusiasm, Parks and Rec. (as examples) will make me slide out of my chair and often continuing to hear it leaves me continuing to have no muscle tone awkwardly sideways dangling off the side of the chair and/or awkwardly on the ground... You become like a ragdoll.
In fact, there is no responses of one's normal reflex points (like the knee cap), the body goes into autonomic mode, breathing slowly like when asleep; because it is REM intrusion into the awake state.
There are many dangers and I live in the best way that I can, to manage living comfortably and healthy, yet what that unfortunately has come down to is being by myself most of the time.
I should say this too, it is not consistent nor predictable, sometimes things trigger it when other times the same things don't. Sometimes it is a flicker of the face, sometimes it is immediate collapse (this is what people I believe refer to as their knees buckling)...
Best of Luck. And, know that, I am not attempting to scare anyone, only giving my experience and $0.02.