Treatment of Excessive Daytime Sleepiness in Patients with Narcolepsy

  • Laura Pérez-CarbonellEmail author
Sleep Disorders (A Iranzo, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Sleep Disorders


Purpose of review

The aim of this review is to discuss and summarize the main therapeutic strategies for the management of excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) in patients with narcolepsy. An overview of novel therapies and potential future options are covered as well.

Recent findings

First line treatments for EDS in narcolepsy patients include modafinil/armodafinil and sodium oxybate. Other options with a stimulant effect, such as methylphenidate and amphetamines are considered if the former do not control the symptoms. More recently, pitolisant (H3 receptor inverse agonist) was approved by the European Medicines Agency, and solriamfetol (dopamine and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor) by the Food and Drug Administration, for the treatment of EDS in adult narcolepsy patients. Sodium oxybate was recently approved for EDS management in paediatric patients from the age of seven. Further studies involving the paediatric population are warranted to have solid evidence in the management of children with narcolepsy. Ongoing research of new molecules is based on several mechanisms of action (histamine antagonists/inverse agonists, GABA receptor modulators), and potential future strategies involve immunologic treatment and hypocretin-based therapies.


Additionally to the wakefulness-promoting agents and stimulants classically used, other pharmacologic options have been recently approved for the treatment of EDS in Europe (pitolisant) and the US (solriamfetol). Emerging treatments are under development; newly developed wakefulness-promoting agents act via different mechanisms of action, whereas other forms of therapy are focused in the underlying hypocretin deficiency that characterizes narcolepsy type 1.


Narcolepsy Excessive daytime sleepiness Hypersomnolence Stimulant Wakefulness-promoting agent 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Laura Pérez-Carbonell declares no potential conflicts of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.

References and Recommended Reading

Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019
corrected publication 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sleep Disorders CentreGuy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation TrustLondonUK

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