Epilepsy Home > Gabitril and Insomnia

There are several possible side effects of Gabitril, and insomnia is one of them. In clinical studies, insomnia was reported by up to 6 percent of people taking the epilepsy medication. If you are taking Gabitril and insomnia occurs, be sure to talk to your healthcare provider. He or she may be able to suggest other treatments, such as adjusting your Gabitril dosage.

Does Gabitril Cause Insomnia?

Gabitril® (tiagabine hydrochloride) is a prescription medicine used to treat partial seizures in people with epilepsy. Insomnia is one of the possible Gabitril side effects. This is based on clinical studies where insomnia was a commonly reported side effect.

What Is Insomnia and How Common Is It With Gabitril?

Insomnia is a sleep disorder. People with insomnia may have one or more of the following symptoms:
  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Waking up often during the night and having trouble going back to sleep
  • Waking up too early in the morning
  • Unrefreshing sleep.
Before medicines are approved in the United States, they must go through many clinical studies in which thousands of people are given a particular medicine. In some studies, these people are compared to a similar group of people who are not given the medicine (who take a "sugar pill," or placebo). In these studies, side effects are always documented. As a result, it is possible to see which side effects occur, how often they appear, and how they compare to the group not taking the medicine.
Insomnia was reported in up to 6 percent of people taking Gabitril, compared to only 3 percent of those not taking it.

Gabitril and Insomnia: Suggestions

If you are having difficulty sleeping while taking Gabitril, there are some things that you can try. Some tips for better sleep include:
  • Don't exercise within two hours of bedtime. Exercising five or six hours before bedtime, however, may help you sleep more soundly.
  • Don't eat large meals within two hours of bedtime.
  • Don't nap later than 3 p.m.
  • Keep a regular sleep-wake cycle. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine in the four to six hours before bedtime.
  • Sleep in a dark, quiet room with a comfortable temperature.
  • If you can't fall asleep within 20 minutes, do a quiet activity somewhere else and return to bed when you're sleepy.
  • Wind down in the 30 minutes before bedtime with a relaxing pre-sleep ritual, such as a warm bath, soft music, or reading.
(Click Good Sleep Habits for more suggestions.)
Remember that it is impossible for your healthcare provider to know whether you will develop insomnia while taking Gabitril. Also, in many cases, it is difficult to know whether insomnia is caused by Gabitril or by other factors.
If you develop insomnia while taking Gabitril, talk with your healthcare provider. He or she may be able to recommend other treatments, including insomnia medications, adjusting the Gabitril dosage, or trying another epilepsy medication.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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