Tasimelteon for Insomnia

Last updated: March 26, 2019

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Insomnia is a sleep disorder that affects millions of people around the world. In the US alone, the National Sleep Foundation has reported that about 30 to 40 percent of American adults have had symptoms of insomnia.

If you have insomnia, you will find it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep. The effects can vary from one person to another, but it always leads to a decrease in one’s productivity and it can impact one’s well-being.

Thankfully, we now have medications that can help in dealing with this condition. One of these medications is Tasimelteon.

What is Tasimelteon and how can it help me fight insomnia?

Tasimelteon is a melatonin receptor. In particular, it is an agonist at MT1 and MT2 receptors. These receptors are associated with the control of the Circadian Rhythm or the sleep-wake cycle of the human body. When used properly, it can improve your ability to sleep during the night. It can also help you stay active and productive during the day.

Melatonin is a hormone that is responsible for regulating the sleep-wake cycle of the human body. Melatonin gets released by the pineal gland. The natural levels of melatonin in the blood are highest during the night.

A melatonin receptor like Tasimelteon helps someone with insomnia by imitating melatonin that binds to and activates the melatonin receptor. By artificially increasing melatonin, Tasimelteon can help a person have a more regular Circadian Rhythm.  

How should I use Tasimelteon?

Tasimelteon comes in a capsule form. You can get it as a brand-name drug called Hetlioz. Take it by mouth as directed by your doctor. Taking the medication on an empty stomach can help in ensuring that the effects are immediate. When taken with a meal, the effects may take longer to set in.

You should take the medication right before bedtime. For healthy adults, the recommended dosage is 20 mg per day.  It is also important to take the medication at about the same time each night. Set a particular time each night so you can establish a sleep-wake cycle. If you take the medication at different times, it won’t be as effective because you’ll be sleeping and waking at different times.

Are there any side effects when taking Tasimelteon?

Yes, as with any medication, there are side effects associated with taking Tasimelteon. Side effects are undesirable effects of a drug or a medical treatment. Experiencing side effects from a medication doesn’t mean that the medication is not working. Side effects may be unpleasant but there are ways to manage them. If you experience any side effects from taking Tasimelteon, inform your doctor so you can get help in managing them.

Known side effects of Tasimelteon include:

  • Headaches
  • Nightmares
  • Strange dreams
  • Daytime drowsiness

If the side effects continue or intensify, you need to immediately inform your doctor. Among the side effects mentioned above, the one that may impact you the most is daytime drowsiness. This side effect can affect your work or studies. It can also be dangerous especially if you need to drive a car or if your work requires you to operate machinery. Drowsiness can affect your alertness and you might end up hurting yourself or others.

Although it is rare, this medication can cause a very serious allergic reaction. You need to seek medical help immediately if you notice any symptoms of an allergic reaction. Signs of an allergic reaction include:

  • Skin Rashes
  • Itching
  • Severe dizziness
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Swelling especially in the face, tongue, and throat

Are there any drug interactions I should know of?

A drug interaction can change the way that Tasimelteon works. It can also increase the risk of serious side effects. Drugs that can interact with Tasimelteon include:

  • Ciprofloxacin
  • Rifabutin
  • Carbamazepine
  • Phenytoin
  • Fluvoxamine

Before taking Tasimelteon, you should tell your physician if you are taking other medications that can cause sleepiness. Examples of such medication include pain or cough relievers. Muscle relaxants and antihistamines can also cause drowsiness and should not be taken with Tasimelteon.

Can I take Tasimelteon if I am pregnant?

Yes, you can take Tasimelteon even if you are pregnant. However, it should be taken with caution and only if the benefits of taking Tasimelteon outweigh the risks. There is also no evidence that this drug can be distributed in human breast milk.

Insomnia is a sleep disorder that affects a large percentage of the population. Fortunately, you don’t need to live with it. There are medications like Tasimelteon that can help minimize if not completely eliminate the symptoms of insomnia.

When taken regularly, Tasimelteon can help you have a more regular sleep-wake cycle. There are precautions that you should take before using Tasimelteon though. And there are side effects associated with the medication. However, the risks of taking Tasimelteon are outweighed by its benefits. As long as you follow the instructions of your prescribing physician, you can enjoy all of its benefits and none of the risks.

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