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What medications are useful for treating restless legs syndrome relative to excessive sleepiness?

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Several types of medication are useful for treating the symptoms of restless legs syndrome or for inducing deep sleep. They include:

Because these drugs have not been compared thoroughly in studies, the best approach is to start with one and see how it works. If it’s ineffective, work with your doctor to find an alternative. In severe cases, a combination of drugs may work best.

  • Anti-seizure drugs such as carbamazepine (Tegretol), gabapentin (Neurontin), and valproate. Gabapentin enacarbil (Horizant) is a newer drug that is used in restless legs syndrome treatment. It was not developed as a seizure medicine.
  • Anti-parkinsonian drugs  such as carbidopa/ levodopa (Sinemet), pergolide, pramipexole (Mirapex), and ropinirole (Requip XL)
  • Benzodiazepines  such as clonazepam (Klonopin), diazepam (Valium), lorazepam (Ativan), and temazepam (Restoril)
  • Opiates such as codeine, methadone, and oxycodone for severe RLS

SOURCES: 

News release, FDA.

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke: “NINDS Hypersomnia Information Page.”

Medscape: “Management of Excessive Daytime Sleepiness Reviewed.”

eMedicine: “Primary Hypersomnia.” 

eMedicine: “Obstructive Sleep Apnea.” 

eMedicine: “Disorders that Disrupt Sleep (Parasomnias).”

National Sleep Foundation: “Fatigue and Excessive Sleepiness.”

National Sleep Foundation: “Depression and Sleep.”

Narcolepsy Network: “FAQ.”

RLS Foundation: “What Is RLS?” 

RLS Foundation: “FAQ.”

Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian on May 22, 2019

SOURCES: 

News release, FDA.

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke: “NINDS Hypersomnia Information Page.”

Medscape: “Management of Excessive Daytime Sleepiness Reviewed.”

eMedicine: “Primary Hypersomnia.” 

eMedicine: “Obstructive Sleep Apnea.” 

eMedicine: “Disorders that Disrupt Sleep (Parasomnias).”

National Sleep Foundation: “Fatigue and Excessive Sleepiness.”

National Sleep Foundation: “Depression and Sleep.”

Narcolepsy Network: “FAQ.”

RLS Foundation: “What Is RLS?” 

RLS Foundation: “FAQ.”

Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian on May 22, 2019

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How does sleep apnea lead to excessive sleepiness?

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