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"Curing" Insomnia With A Narcolepsy Drug?

Last year, I warned you about the skyrocketing sales of Provigil (modafinil), a drug tailored to push Type A people into extreme workaholic behaviors by helping them avoid sleep. Provigil -- originally marketed to treat narcolepsy -- may soon be prescribed for shift workers and those suffering from chronic fatigue.

A New England Journal of Medicine study found Provigil produced fewer lapses in attention and reduced the number of accidents or near-mishaps by shift workers during their daily commutes. According to researchers, well-rested patients take anywhere from 10-20 minutes to fall asleep. Before taking Provigil, it took shift workers about 2 minutes on average to get there. But after taking the drug, that lag time between increased to about 4 minutes, and some 77 percent of the patients were less likely to be sleepy during their night shift. Not that impressive...

And, there were some serious caveats worth taking into consideration:

  • Many patients reported headaches.
  • Some complained of insomnia which isn't good if the intention of the drug is to get more sleep...
  • Provigil maker Cephalon paid for the study.

Folks, sleep is one of the foundations of good health. If you aren't sleeping well, that's a giant clue that something in your life is amiss, especially if you have problems with sleep apnea. But you don't need a pill to treat sleep problems, when there are natural solutions that are safer and just as effective.

If you are one of the 58 percent of Americans who struggle with getting a full night of sleep, I suggest reading my Guide to a Good Night's Sleep. Whether you are not able to fall asleep, wake up too often, or don't feel well-rested when you wake up in the morning, my guidelines will provide you with various useful techniques to improve these problems.

New England Journal of Medicine, Vol. 353, No. 5, August 4, 2005: 476-486

MSNBC August 4, 2005

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