Narcolepsy is a type of sleep disorder and it is among 30 dyssomnias, classified under three distinct categories. Individuals suffering from this chronic sleep disorder suffer from disturbed nocturnal slumber, resulting in the patients experiencing excessive daytime sleepiness. This is characterized by the individual, exhibiting symptoms of extreme fatigue and dozing off at odd hours and places, such as, workplace, school, during meetings, classes, lectures, presentations, etc. They also often experience cataplectic symptoms, usually when under some kind of emotional stress. Now, let's proceed to take a look at what drugs and chemicals are included within the ambit of medication for this sleep disorder.
List of Medications
Narcolepsy is not that rare a disorder in this age of personal and professional stress. Symptomatic treatment of narcolepsy for relieving excessive daytime sleepiness, include central nervous system stimulants like amphetamine, methamphetamine, methylphenidate, modafinil, and armodafinil. Codeine and selegiline may also be used to treat narcolepsy symptoms. Atomoxetine is also used many a time and is favored over the stimulant drugs, as it is a non-stimulating norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor without any significant potential for substance abuse and as such, a safer treatment alternative.
Tricyclic antidepressants, such as, clomipramine, protriptyline, etc., are commonly used to treat cataplectic and REM-sleep symptoms associated with narcolepsy and similar sleep disorders. Another drug venlafaxine, a serotonin and norepinephrine re-uptake blocking antidepressant, is considered as one of the best medications for treating cataplexy. However, it's most adverse side effect manifests as sleep disruption. These medications are commercially available under various brands and names and these are mostly prescription drugs.
All the above mentioned narcolepsy treatment medications may have different side effects associated with each. Most common side effects of amphetamines and methylphenidate include headache, anxiety, irritability, gastrointestinal disorders, increased blood pressure and pulse rate, etc. Pemaline may bring about chemical induced liver damage. Most common side effects for anti depressants include drowsiness, sedation, dizzy spells, anticholinergic effects (such as dry mouth, constipation, blurred vision, slow urination, dizziness, etc.), nausea, insomnia, diminished appetite, etc. Administration of sodium oxybate or venlafaxine may impart drowsiness, nausea, a light-headed feeling and dizziness as side effects.
These side effects become pronounced on the event of long-term administration and overdose of these narcoleptic medication drugs. Introducing various lifestyle modifications may also help ease the symptoms of narcolepsy. These include sticking to a specific sleep-wake schedule, regular exercise, taking short power naps at regular intervals, avoiding alcohol and nicotine, etc. A potent combination of these medications and the suggested lifestyle modifications can give the best result in easing narcoleptic symptoms and restoring the natural biological rhythm of slumber. Sleep disorder can be extremely and acutely harrowing and it can be avoided, or at least kept on a leash, by adopting a healthy lifestyle. It is as important to sleep at the right time (in a continuous, uninterrupted manner) as it is to be able to get enough of it.