What Is Armodafinil Used For?
Armodafinil is used for helping people with certain sleep disorders stay awake and alert. More specifically, the medication is approved to promote wakefulness in people with excessive sleepiness due to shift work sleep disorder, sleep apnea, and narcolepsy. Healthcare providers may also occasionally recommend off-label armodafinil uses, such as treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, depression, and fatigue due to other causes.
Armodafinil (Nuvigil™) is a prescription medication used to promote wakefulness. This means that it helps people stay awake and alert. It is approved to promote wakefulness in people with excessive sleepiness due to:
- Sleep apnea (known medically as obstructive sleep apnea/hypopnea syndrome or OSAHS)
- Shift work sleep disorder (SWSD), a problem in people who work night shifts or who frequently change between day and night work shifts.
Why Is Armodafinil Used for Sleep Apnea?
Although there are different types of sleep apnea, this phrase usually refers to obstructive sleep apnea/hypopnea syndrome (OSAHS), often just called obstructive sleep apnea. This is the most common type of sleep apnea. During sleep, not enough air is able to flow into your lungs through your mouth and nose, even though you try to breathe. When this happens, the amount of oxygen in your blood may drop. Normal breaths then start again with a loud snort or choking sound.
Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by relaxation of soft tissue in the back of the throat that blocks the passage of air (see Causes of Sleep Apnea). While the most obvious effects usually involve daytime sleepiness, sleep apnea can cause serious health problems, such as high blood pressure (hypertension) or depression. Sleep apnea treatment usually involves continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), which uses a mask that blows air to cause pressure that keeps the throat open during sleep.
Armodafinil can be used to help people with obstructive sleep apnea stay awake and alert during the day. However, it does not cure the condition or decrease the chance of dangerous effects. For this reason, the drug should always be used along with appropriate sleep apnea treatment (usually CPAP). In fact, armodafinil should not be started unless sleep apnea has been appropriately treated for a little while, since daytime sleepiness will usually improve with CPAP or other treatment.