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Medications for Drowsiness (Hypersomnia)

Other names: Drowsiness; Excessive Daytime Sleepiness; Idiopathic Hypersomnolence; Sleepiness - during the day; Somnolence

About Drowsiness: 

What is Drowsiness?

Drowsiness is the term used to describe feeling excessively sleepy or tired during the day.

What Causes Drowsiness?

Drowsiness may be caused by a wide variety of medical conditions, medications, and lifestyle choices. Generally, anything that disturbs night-time sleep can lead to daytime drowsiness.

Some common causes of drowsiness include:

  • Insufficient sleep at night (going to bed too late or waking up too early)
  • Changes to your sleep schedule (such as flying across several time zones)
  • Sleep disorders (eg, narcolepsy, restless legs syndrome, sleep apnea)
  • Alcohol
  • Blue light exposure
  • Boredom
  • Chronic pain
  • Dietary reasons (eg, too much caffeine, eating too late at night)
  • Head injury
  • Hypothermia
  • Medical conditions, such as asthma, chronic fatigue syndrome, diabetes, gastrointestinal disorders, low thyroid levels, metabolic abnormalities
  • Medications (such as sedating antihistamines, benzodiazepines, some pain relievers)
  • Mental health disturbances, such as anxiety or depression
  • Neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease
  • Nicotine
  • Stress or worry
  • Using electronic devices at night.

What are the Symptoms of Drowsiness?

Common symptoms of drowsiness include:

  • Daydreaming
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Disconnected thoughts
  • Feeling abnormally sleepy during the day
  • Frequent yawning
  • Forgetfulness
  • Falling asleep at inappropriate times
  • Having to take naps throughout the day
  • Heavy eyelids
  • Inability to sleep at night
  • Low motivation
  • Missing exits or road signs when driving
  • Trouble keeping your head up.

How is Drowsiness Diagnosed?

If you are experiencing persistent, unexplained, daytime drowsiness, see your doctor. Your doctor will ask you questions about how well you sleep and your sleep schedule and they may ask you to keep a diary of your day-to-day life and sleep for a few days to get a clearer idea of how often you fall asleep during the day.

Further tests may be conducted depending on whether the doctor thinks you may have an underlying medical condition. If the cause is psychological, they may refer you to a counselor or therapist, or if it is due to a medication, they may try to swap that medicine out for something else or reduce the dosage. Never stop medicine yourself without first talking to your doctor.

How is Drowsiness Treated?

Treatment depends on the cause and may include:

  • Avoiding blue light and electronic screens for at least two hours before going to bed
  • Exercising more during the day
  • Improving your sleep schedule (such as always going to bed at a certain time and waking up at a certain time, even in the weekends)
  • Listening to podcasts that help you to switch off
  • Medication
  • Meditation
  • Psychotherapy
  • Relaxation treatments
  • Treatment of the underlying cause (if identified and treatable).

Drugs Used to Treat Drowsiness

The following list of medications are in some way related to, or used in the treatment of this condition.

Drug name Rx / OTC Pregnancy CSA Alcohol Reviews Rating Popularity
modafinil Off Label C 4 15 reviews
7.2

Generic name: modafinil systemic

Drug class: CNS stimulants

For consumers: dosage, interactions,

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Off Label: Yes

caffeine C N 23 reviews
7.7

Generic name: caffeine systemic

Brand names:  Vivarin, NoDoz, Stay Awake, Cafcit …show all

Drug class: CNS stimulants

For consumers: dosage, interactions,

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, Prescribing Information

dextroamphetamine Off Label C 2 X 4 reviews
7.8

Generic name: dextroamphetamine systemic

Drug class: CNS stimulants

For consumers: dosage, interactions,

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Off Label: Yes

armodafinil Off Label C 4 34 reviews
6.2

Generic name: armodafinil systemic

Drug class: CNS stimulants

For consumers: dosage, interactions,

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Off Label: Yes

Vivarin C N 7 reviews
9.0

Generic name: caffeine systemic

Drug class: CNS stimulants

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

NoDoz C N 15 reviews
7.1

Generic name: caffeine systemic

Drug class: CNS stimulants

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

Stay Awake C N Add review
0.0

Generic name: caffeine systemic

Drug class: CNS stimulants

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

Cafcit C N Add review
0.0

Generic name: caffeine systemic

Drug class: CNS stimulants

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

Topics under Drowsiness

Learn more about Drowsiness (Hypersomnia)

ICD-10 CM Clinical Codes (External)

Legend

Rx Prescription Only
OTC Over the Counter
Rx/OTC Prescription or Over the Counter
Off Label This medication may not be approved by the FDA for the treatment of this condition.
Pregnancy Category
A Adequate and well-controlled studies have failed to demonstrate a risk to the fetus in the first trimester of pregnancy (and there is no evidence of risk in later trimesters).
B Animal reproduction studies have failed to demonstrate a risk to the fetus and there are no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women.
C Animal reproduction studies have shown an adverse effect on the fetus and there are no adequate and well-controlled studies in humans, but potential benefits may warrant use in pregnant women despite potential risks.
D There is positive evidence of human fetal risk based on adverse reaction data from investigational or marketing experience or studies in humans, but potential benefits may warrant use in pregnant women despite potential risks.
X Studies in animals or humans have demonstrated fetal abnormalities and/or there is positive evidence of human fetal risk based on adverse reaction data from investigational or marketing experience, and the risks involved in use in pregnant women clearly outweigh potential benefits.
N FDA has not classified the drug.
Controlled Substances Act (CSA) Schedule
N Is not subject to the Controlled Substances Act.
1 Has a high potential for abuse. Has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. There is a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision.
2 Has a high potential for abuse. Has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States or a currently accepted medical use with severe restrictions. Abuse may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.
3 Has a potential for abuse less than those in schedules 1 and 2. Has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. Abuse may lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence.
4 Has a low potential for abuse relative to those in schedule 3. It has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. Abuse may lead to limited physical dependence or psychological dependence relative to those in schedule 3.
5 Has a low potential for abuse relative to those in schedule 4. Has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. Abuse may lead to limited physical dependence or psychological dependence relative to those in schedule 4.
Alcohol
X Interacts with Alcohol.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.