Stimulant Ritalin (methylphenidate) Could Help Sleep

Stimulant Ritalin (methylphenidate) Could Help Sleep

It sounds paradoxical that a stimulant like Methylphenidate could calm down hyperactive children and adults. It sounds even stranger that stimulants might help with sleep, but both statements are true.  The fact that Methylphenidate is helping patients with ADHD has been known for a long time and other positive effects were described. Recently a serious scientific article was published about enduring sleep benefits of Ritalin.  At the annual Congress of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology, Dr. Michelle Solleveld, MD from the University of Amsterdam reported that Methylphenidate is not only helping children with ADHD behave better and calmer but their sleep was significantly improved.  Children fall asleep earlier, have fewer awakenings and wake up more easily. She presented the results of a randomized double-blind, 16 week, placebo control clinical trial involving 50 not medicated before “medication naïve” boys with ADHD, 10-12 years old. Children on medication vs placebo slept better and longer and their improved sleep persisted for a week after the medication was stopped which was also consistent with brain imaging studies.  Images showed that Methylphenidate therapy increased blood flow within the thalamus in response to increased dopamine produced by Methylphenidate.

In adults, this effect was not proved yet but there are clinical reports of the calming effect of methylphenidate on adult sleep too. Thus, paradoxical calming effects of stimulants could be another approach in therapy of sleep disorders.

 Source: Clinical Psychiatric News: Dec 2017:10

JAMA, Psychiatry, 2016, Sep 1;73(9):955-62

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