Modafinil is a FDA approved drug, which is used to treat excessive sleepiness in people with shift-work sleep disorder, narcolepsy and sleep apnea. The drug helps people with these problems to stay awake.
Modafinil and Shift-work Sleep Disorder
Shift-work sleep disorder is a condition that normally affects people who work night shifts, or who keep alternating between night and day shifts. A typical night shift starts at nine and ends at five. Many individuals who work between these times usually find it very difficult to fall asleep during the day, and stay awake at night. Similarly, for people who keep switching back and forth between day and night shift, their bodies never get time to adjust to either of these situations. As a result, they find it hard to stay awake at work, and sleep when they need to. If you are such a person, Modafinil can be of great help.
If you work night shift, the drug will keep you awake at your workplace, which will in turn help you to sleep during the day. After using the drug for some time, your symptoms will gradually improve, and you will not need the drug for long. This is because your body will start to adjust to the new schedule.
Modafinil and Narcolepsy
Narcolepsy is another condition whose symptoms can be minimized by the use of Modafinil. This chronic disease of the brain and spinal cord is characterized by inability to control sleep. Narcolepsy patients sleep uncontrollably, and they can sleep several times a day, and at unusual hours. They may also experience hallucinations while asleep.
Although Narcolepsy has no cure, its symptoms can be made less frequent and severe by Modafinil.
Modafinil and Sleep Apnea
Modafinil is used to deal with the sleeping problems that are caused by obstructive sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type of sleep apnea, and it is characterized by episodes of extremely low breadths during which enough air is restricted from flowing into the lungs through the nose and mouth. After each episode, normal breaths then restart with a chocking sound or snort. The condition is caused by the soft tissue located at the back of the throat, which relaxes and blocks the airway.
Daytime sleepiness is one of the obvious effects of obstructive sleep apnea. Modafinil can help sleep apnea patients to deal stay awake and alert during the day. However, it cannot treat the condition, or decrease the chances of getting affected by other serious health problems associated with sleep apnea such as depression and high blood pressure. As a result, the drug should be used together with other sleep apnea treatments.
How Modafinil Works And Its Affects
Currently, the precise mechanism through which Modafinil promotes wakefulness in humans is not known. Although it does affect certain chemicals in the brain, this is not the way it works. This is because blocking these particular chemicals does not affect its workings as is the case with other stimulants.
Modafinil has been shown to increase or decrease the activity of certain enzymes in the liver, which metabolize or eliminate other drugs. This can lead to reduced levels of some drugs; something that can make them less effective and increased levels of others, which may lead to their toxicity. Consequently, the drug should be closely monitored while being used together with these drugs.
Some of the drugs whose effectiveness may be reduced by Modafinil include a variety of hormonal contraceptives, theophylline and cyclosporine. It is advisable to consider non-drug contraceptives while using the drug. On the other hand, the drugs whose toxicity may be increased include mephenytoin, phenytoin, desipramine, imipramine, propranolol, diazepam and warfarin.
There are some drugs that have been shown to increase or reduce the effectiveness and/or toxicity of Modafinil. Drug such as rifampin, Phenobarbital and carbamazepine can increase its effectiveness or toxicity while drugs like itraconazole and ketoconazole cause the reverse effects.
There has not been adequate research studies on the effects of alcohol and pregnancy on Modafinil. However, it is advisable to avoid alcohol while using the drug. The drug has no known effects on pregnancy and breast milk.
Modafinil Side Effects
There are a number of side effects that are associated with the drug. Some of the common side effects of Modafinil include insomnia, anxiety, nervousness, nausea, infection in upper respiratory tract and headaches. The other serious side effects of this drug that have been reported, include abnormal heart beats, suicidal thoughts, psychosis, fainting, high blood pressure multiple organ hypersensitivity reactions and serious skin reactions.