Gabapentin is the generic version of Neurontin that is originally designed and used to treat and prevent epileptic seizures as well as neuropathic pains caused by various diseases. This drug can be used by both adults and children. (1)

The drug works on the nervous system by altering the production and effect of GABA and glutamate, a “nerve-calming” and a “nerve-exciting” neurotransmitter respectively. The latter is believed to be responsible for the occurrence of seizures. As a result, a calming effect is induced by the drug.

However, it has been known to be used for other than it official purposes. For one, people suffering from a migraine are taking it to alleviate their pains. A migraine also targets nerves in the head, and taking it for this intention eases the symptoms in the same way it does for neuropathic pains.

Others, on the other hand, are using Gabapentin to treat their insomnia. Because of the feeling of calmness this medication gives, drowsiness is a very common side effect experienced by those who consume it.

Gabapentin And Sleep Disorders

Although very prevalent in our society, it is hardly given any attention in the medical world. Insomnia is not merely the inability to fall into sleep. It is characterized by various symptoms that are sometimes unnoticed by patients.

Listed below are some red flags that may signal that you have insomnia: (2)

  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Difficulty staying asleep
  • Waking too early
  • Experiencing non-restorative sleep

Having insomnia can lead to various effects on both the physical and psychological health of a person. It can weaken the nervous system which could make the body more susceptible to many diseases. Also, it can alter a person’s personality in different ways such as increased irritability, lack of motivation, and mood swings.

Efficacy Of Gabapentin In Treating Insomnia

In a study involving eighteen patients with primary insomnia, its primary author Lo HS concluded that Gabapentin could alter slow-wave sleep.

“Gabapentin enhances slow-wave sleep in patients with primary insomnia. It also improves sleep quality by elevating sleep efficiency and decreasing spontaneous arousal.”

NCBI

These results, according to him and his co-researchers, suggest that gabapentin may be beneficial in treating primary insomnia. However, it should be clear that what was exhibited in the study is not a causal relation, but only a correlation.

How Does Gabapentin Work In Treating Insomnia?

First, it must be noted that drowsiness is only a side effect of Gabapentin. However, if someone with insomnia consumes it, it can normalize brain activities and help the person have a good night of sleep.

It must also be noted that this has the greater possibility of working if the insomnia is not a symptom of menopause where progestin and estrogen therapy is recommended instead of Gabapentin. The way it works for sleep is the same as it does for its original purposes, neuropathic pain and epileptic seizures.

GABA production is increased, and its effects are enhanced. Then, glutamate production is decreased, while its effects are weakened. It is known that insomnia is a result of excessive brain activities and restlessness. Thus, by calming the brain, people suffering from insomnia would find it easier to sleep.

References

GABAPENTIN. (n.d.) Retrieved August 14, 2017, from http://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-14208-8217/gabapentin-oral/gabapentin-oral/details

Insomnia is a troubling and under-treated problem by Barbiery. (2011). Retrieved August 14, 2017, from http://www.mdedge.com/obgmanagement/article/64536/insomnia-troubling-and-under-treated-problem

Treatment effects of gabapentin for primary insomnia by Lo, HS, et al. (2010). Retrieved August 14, 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20124884