Gabapentin is an anticonvulsant, a type of medication that affects nerves in the body that can experience seizures and pain.
Though more research is needed to understand just exactly how Gabapentin works, studies show that it calms hyperactivity in the brain and changes the way your nerves send messages to your brain.
Gabapentin is considered to be non-addictive and isn’t labeled as a controlled substance.
What Is Gabapentin Used For?
Doctors turn to Gabapentin for several conditions.
It’s been approved by the FDA for two primary uses:
- To prevent or stop seizures
- To ease nerve pain
However, Gabapentin has also been found to be an effective treatment for off-label uses as well. The most common of these include:
- Nerve damage caused by Diabetes
- Restless Leg Syndrome
- Hot flashes
- Teeth grinding
Studies have shown that Gabapentin alters electrical activity in your brain, in turn producing a calming effect.
This side effect is exactly what makes the medication a helpful option for those struggling with sleeplessness.
Research reports those taking Gabapentin experience fewer wakeups throughout the night as well as longer deep sleep.
When you get more deep sleep, you’re more likely to wake up feeling refreshed. Deep sleep can also improve your memory, regenerate your body cells, repair body tissue, and strengthen your immune system.
When prescribed for insomnia, Gabapentin is taken once a day at night right before bed. In most cases, your doctor will recommend you pair your prescription with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to improve effectiveness. Your doctor will also likely provide you with a list of Sleep Hygiene habits to build on.
Does Gabapentin Have Any Side Effects?
Side effects are possible with Gabapentin. To minimize these or avoid them altogether, always be sure to provide your doctor with a complete and updated medical history.
The most common side effects experienced after taking Gabapentin include:
- Memory loss
- Lack of coordination
- Difficulty speaking
- Viral infections
- Double vision
- Unusual eye movements
- Jerky movements
- Changes to mood
Reach out to your doctor if you notice any of these symptoms after taking your Gabapentin prescription.
Though rare, some more serious side effects have also been reported. These may include:
- Severe weakness
- Problems with balance or muscle movement
- Upper stomach pain
- Chest pain
- Trouble breathing
- Severe tingling or numbness
- Rapid eye movement
- Kidney problems
- Severe changes to mood, including depression and anxiety
Seek in-person medical attention as soon as you experience any of these side effects.
How Do I Know If Gabapentin Is Right For Me?
Gabapentin is a trusted treatment option prescribed by doctors for several different uses, including insomnia. And though research has shown it to be effective for many, it isn’t right for everyone.
If you want to learn whether or not Gabapentin can help you get back to sleep, consult with your doctor.
Reviewed by Dr. Alex Dimitriu
Dr. Alex Dimitriu is a Stanford-trained physician with dual board certification in psychiatry and sleep medicine. The included content is not intended to replace medical advice. Always be sure to discuss any prescription medications with your doctor.