The Uses of Lyrica As a Sleep Aid

Pregabalin is an anticonvulsant drug manufactured by Pfizer and sold under the trade name Lyrica. According to a 2007 review in the periodical "Clinical Therapeutics," this drug successfully treats neuropathic pain, partial epilepsy and anxiety disorders. Pregabalin improves the symptoms of restless legs and fibromyalgia syndrome as well. People with these medical conditions often exhibit disturbed sleep, and Lyrica helps ameliorate that problem.

Lyrica can improve sleep quality in several medical conditions. (Image: Zinkevych/iStock/Getty Images)

Neuropathic Pain

People with diabetes, herpes and trigeminal neuralgia often feel neuropathic pain caused by nerve damage. The pain arises from multiple locations in body and negatively affects daily life. Frequent awakenings appear during nighttime sleep. A 2010 report in the journal "Pain Medicine" tested the effects of Lyrica in neuropathic pain patients. A typical response rate in such patients is about 50 percent. Yet this study noted improvements in nearly all subjects relative to placebo. Twelve weeks of pregabalin enhanced sleep and improved mood. The patients tolerated the drug well, with few side effects observed.

Partial Epilepsy

In partial epilepsy, a single part of the brain experiences seizure activity. Symptoms include face twitching, lip smacking and disorientation without the loss of consciousness. Frequent shifts between different stages of consciousness occur across the night. Rapid eye movement, or REM, sleep appears later and less often. A 2009 investigation in the "European Journal of Neurology" reveals that 12 weeks of Lyrica intake reduced seizures and enhanced sleep. Pregabalin increased REM sleep but also made the patients more sleepy during the daytime hours. Otherwise, they reported no adverse reactions.

Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders like panic attack and social phobia affect about 10 percent of the population. People with excessive anxiety often have a difficult time sleeping. According to a 2009 study in the publication "International Clinical Psychopharmacology," patients with generalized anxiety disorder fall into equal two groups: people with high insomnia ratings and people with low ratings. Four weeks of Lyrica use reduced anxiety in both groups and enhanced sleep in the high insomnia group. Patients receiving pregabalin did not report any significant reactions to the drug.

Restless Legs

With restless legs syndrome, people have a difficult time not moving their legs. These movements persist throughout the day and into the night. They often prevent sleep and cause awakenings. A 2010 report in the journal "Neurology" suggests that 12 weeks of Lyrica treatment suppressed these movements. Pregabalin use also reduced nighttime wakefulness and enhanced "deep" sleep. In general, Lyrica intake did not produce negative reactions. The treatment did, however, occasionally cause sleepiness and dizziness.

Fibromyalgia Syndrome

According to a 2008 review in "Current Opinion in Supportive and Palliative Care," fibromyalgia is an ancient condition given a new name. People with this chronic rheumatic disorder experience incessant pain, making it challenging for them to sleep. A 2010 summary in the "Journal of Pain" indicates that Lyrica reduces feelings of pain in fibromyalgia patients. Pregabalin also decreases daytime fatigue and increases nighttime sleep. Yet such treatment often causes headache and nausea. These results demonstrate the effectiveness of Lyrica, but tolerance issues remain a concern.

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