A 17-year-old student with narcolepsy was struggling to make it to school on time. He was often late even though his school allowed him to report at 10 a.m. As a result he failed two classes.
The problem was that he suffered from severe “sleep inertia” in the morning. He simply could not wake up. He would take at least an hour to get up from bed.
He was taking modafinil in the morning and at lunch to treat his excessive daytime sleepiness. The brand name for modafinil is Provigil.
The stimulant helped him remain alert at school. But he was unable to swallow the medication until he had awakened.
So his doctors instructed his parents to try giving him a nicotine patch in the morning. This is commonly used by people who want to quit smoking. A dose of nicotine enters the blood by being absorbed through the skin. The nicotine acts as a stimulant.
His parents applied a 14-mg nicotine patch to his arm about 20 minutes before it was time for him to wake up. Then after 20 minutes they woke him up and washed off his arm.
Using the patch allowed him to become alert enough to swallow his medication. Waking up at a consistent time helped stabilize his schedule. He was able to fall asleep easier at night. He also was able to avoid napping during the day.
This unique solution helped him arrive at school on time most days. He was able to participate in more events at school and eventually graduated.
You should talk to your doctor before using a nicotine patch. Contact an AASM-accredited sleep center for help with narcolepsy or another sleep disorder.
Read more about narcolepsy.
Image by pireus+