Medications for daytime sleepiness in individuals with idiopathic hypersomnia

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Background: Idiopathic hypersomnia is a disorder of excessive daytime sleepiness, often accompanied by long sleep times or pronounced difficulty in awakening, in the absence of a known cause. The optimal treatment strategy for idiopathic hypersomnia is currently unknown. Objectives: To assess the effects of medications for daytime sleepiness and related symptoms in individuals with idiopathic hypersomnia and, in particular, whether medications may: 1. reduce subjective measures of sleepiness; 2. reduce objective measures of sleepiness; 3. reduce symptoms of cognitive dysfunction; 4. improve quality of life; and 5. be associated with adverse events. Search methods: We searched the following databases on 4 February 2021: Cochrane Register of Studies (CRS Web), MEDLINE (Ovid, 1946 to 1 February 2021), and reference lists of articles. CRS Web includes randomized or quasi-randomized controlled trials from PubMed, Embase,, the World Health Organization International Clinical Trials Registry Platform (WHO ICTRP), the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), and the specialized registers of Cochrane Review Groups, including the Cochrane Epilepsy Group. We previously searched the WHO ICTRP separately when loading of ICTRP records into CRS Web was temporarily suspended. Selection criteria: Randomized studies comparing any medication to placebo, another medication, or a behavioral intervention. Data collection and analysis: Two review authors independently extracted data and assessed trial quality. We contacted study authors for additional data. We collected data on adverse events from the included trials. Main results: We included three trials, with a total of 112 participants. Risk of bias was low for the included studies. Two pharmaceutical company-sponsored trials compared modafinil with placebo, involving 102 participants, nearly all of whom had idiopathic hypersomnia without long sleep time. Modafinil significantly improved self-reported sleepiness on the Epworth Sleepiness Scale by 5.08 points more than placebo (95% confidence interval (CI) 3.01 to 7.16; 2 studies, 101 participants; high-certainty evidence). Modafinil also significantly improved disease severity on the Clinical Global Impression of Severity scale by 1.02 points (95% CI 0.11 to 1.93; 1 study, 30 participants; moderate-certainty evidence) and resulted in a greater proportion of participants who were "much improved" or "very much improved" on the Clinical Global Impression of Change (odds ratio (OR) for improvement 5.14, 95% CI 1.76 to 15.00; 1 study, 70 participants; moderate-certainty evidence). Ability to remain awake on the Maintenance of Wakefulness Test was significantly improved with modafinil, by 4.74 minutes more than with placebo (95% CI 2.46 to 7.01; 2 studies, 99 participants; high-certainty evidence). Ratings of exhaustion and effectiveness/performance were improved with modafinil compared to placebo in one study. Number of naps per week was no different between modafinil and placebo across two studies. Participants receiving modafinil experienced more side effects, although the difference did not reach statistical significance (OR 1.68, 95% CI 0.28 to 9.94; 2 studies, 102 participants; low-certainty evidence). One trial studying 20 participants with different disorders of sleepiness included 10 participants with idiopathic hypersomnia, with or without long sleep time, and compared clarithromycin to placebo. We only included the subset of trial data for those participants with idiopathic hypersomnia, per our protocol. There were no significant differences between clarithromycin and placebo for the Epworth Sleepiness Scale, psychomotor vigilance testing, sleep inertia, other subjective ratings, or side effects. Authors' conclusions: Modafinil is effective for the treatment of several aspects of idiopathic hypersomnia symptomatology, based on studies predominantly including participants with idiopathic hypersomnia without long sleep times, with low risk of bias, and evidence certainty ranging from high to low. There is insufficient evidence to conclude whether clarithromycin is effective for the treatment of idiopathic hypersomnia. There is a clear need for additional studies testing interventions for the treatment of idiopathic hypersomnia.




Trotti, L. M., Becker, L. A., Friederich Murray, C., & Hoque, R. (2021, May 25). Medications for daytime sleepiness in individuals with idiopathic hypersomnia. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. John Wiley and Sons Ltd.

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