What is the best medication for narcolepsy?

What is the best medication for narcolepsy?'s picture

Narcolepsy is a sleeping disorder that can be caused for many reasons. It is mainly characterized by oversleeping or losing the capacity to stop oneself from asleep at inappropriate times. Narcolepsy is treated primarily by a group of drugs called eugeroics. Modafinil is the most popular and effective eugeroic drug that we know of at the moment. An enantiopure form of modafinil called armodafinil has also come up in the present times as a potent treatment for narcolepsy. Several online pharmacies now offer both armodafinil and modafinil for sale for you to access these prescription drugs for narcolepsy conveniently.

In this blog, let us discuss narcolepsy in great detail along with how eugeroics like modafinil can help in treating the condition. This would hopefully provide you with a better understanding of the condition and clear your doubts regarding taking modafinil for narcolepsy.

What is narcolepsy?

Narcolepsy is a disorder that affects the neurological system in the body and manifests as an inability to control the sleep-wake cycle of the body. If you are suffering from narcolepsy, it is likely that you will feel highly drowsy for a significant part of the day. It is also possible that you involuntarily fall asleep while working, or even while talking. In general, people with narcolepsy tend to sleep longer than normal people. However, it is important to note that if a healthy individual sleeps for 8 hours daily, narcoleptics sleep for about 10 hours. The amount of sleep narcoleptics get is not significantly higher than normal people. This occurs due to the fact that narcoleptics also suffer from poor-quality sleep, or disrupted sleep during their actual bedtimes. The lost sleep at night manifests as uncontrollable sleepiness during work.

Narcolepsy is categorized to be of two types. Type I narcolepsy is associated with cataplexy, a condition where the patient loses muscle tone and muscle control to varying levels. If narcolepsy is not associated with cataplexy, it is called type II narcolepsy.

Narcolepsy - Symptoms

In this section, let us briefly go through the most common symptoms of narcolepsy.

  • EDS - EDS or Excessive Daytime Sleepiness is precisely what it is called. One of the most prominent signs of narcolepsy is uncontrolled sleepiness or drowsiness during the daytime. Narcoleptics cannot control their sleep cycles and tends to fall asleep at odd times. During work, or any other time that is not their stipulated bedtime.
  • Disrupted sleep - Disrupted sleep is a very common occurrence in narcolepsy. It is the primary cause of poor sleep quality and resultant sleep deprivation that causes abrupt sleepiness in narcoleptics. People with narcolepsy are reported to be unable to maintain prolonged quality sleep. They wake up in the middle of the night and find it difficult to fall back asleep. This is paired with abruptly falling asleep during the daytime to make up for the lost sleep at night.
  • Cataplexy - Cataplexy is the condition of involuntarily losing control of muscle movement along with loss of muscle tone. It manifests very similarly to paralysis as it renders patients unable to move their muscles willingly. However, the paralysis is only temporary and patients gain complete control over their voluntary muscles for most of the time. The most concerning part of cataplexy are that muscle control and tone is lost abruptly which leads to sudden body collapse and possible accidents.
  • Sleep paralysis - Sleep paralysis is a condition where the frontal part of the brain responsible for thoughts and consciousness is active but the region responsible for motor control is inactive. Under such circumstances, individuals are capable of thinking but not moving. This is normally felt in the form of lucid dreams where an individual feels that they are fully awake but incapable of moving or speaking.
  • Hallucinations - Hallucinations mean perceiving stimuli that are originally not present in the surrounding environment. Hallucinating individuals tend to see or hear things that do not exist. These are mostly stimuli made up in their brains, but to the patients, they appear very real. Although extreme hallucinations are not always associated with narcolepsy, and most patients are aware that they are hallucinating, it can be a frightening experience.

Narcolepsy - Cause

Narcolepsy is a neurological condition in which the patient loses control over their sleep-wake cycle. It is more prevalent in adolescents and young adults and is widely considered to have a genetic basis. It is unclear whether narcolepsy is passed on hereditarily or how narcolepsy might be passed on across generations. The genes responsible for the condition have not been identified yet.

However, we do know the immediate cause of narcolepsy in a person. The human sleep cycle consists of a 90 minutes sleep cycle. Within each sleep cycle, there is an initial period of REM sleep of about 15-20 minutes, followed by a deeper non-REM sleep, which is again followed by a short period of REM sleep before the sleep cycle is completed. This means that non-REM sleep is always preceded and followed by short spans of REM sleep. non-REM sleep is the deepest form of sleep. In narcoleptics, REM sleep is often missing and they usually drop into non-REM sleep spontaneously, which leaves them incapable of waking up.

Narcolepsy - Treatment

The treatment of narcolepsy is mainly of three kinds, inhibiting sleep through stimulants, discouraging sleep by inhibiting the sleep mechanisms in the body and introducing lifestyle changes.

CNS Stimulants - CNS stimulants like eugeroics, amphetamines, and even Ritalin are prescribed to patients with narcolepsy. These drugs activate the brain and ward off sleep to keep patients active and alert.

GABA-inhibitors - GABA is a neurotransmitter that brings sleep to our bodies. Drugs like Xyrem are molecules that mimic the molecular structure of GABA and bind to the GABA receptors in the nervous system. This prevents GABA itself from binding to these receptors and thereby inhibits the sleep-inducing effect of GABA.

Lifestyle changes - Narcoleptics are encouraged to practice good sleep habits, diets, and exercises that would help them achieve quality sleep. This greatly alleviates the problem of disrupted sleep and, as a result, reduces the chances of falling asleep during the day.

Modafinil for narcolepsy - An effective treatment

Modafinil and armodafinil are eugeroics that were solely developed for the treatment of narcolepsy. Modafinil is a CNS stimulant that alters the dopamine pathway. Dopamine, among other things, is responsible for promoting alertness and focus in the brain. Modafinil binds to dopamine reuptake receptors to increase the amount of dopamine in the body and thereby prolong its effects. Naturally, this results in increased alertness and focus in people who take modafinil.

The development of modafinil and then armodafinil completely changed the way narcolepsy is treated. Previously available CNS stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin are narcotics with great risks of addiction and dependency. Prescribing these drugs is a risk in itself. However, Modafinil or armodafinil does not have any such risks. This makes modafinil the most effective and safest treatment for narcolepsy.

Final words

Narcolepsy is a condition that is often misunderstood and left undiagnosed. In this blog, we discussed narcolepsy in great detail. We also discussed the efficacy of modafinil for narcolepsy treatment. If you think you might have narcolepsy, consult a physician immediately to improve your quality of life.


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