Sleep deprivation is ubiquitous and carries profound consequences in terms of personal and public health and safety. There is no substitute for a good night's sleep. Sleep that is optimal in quality and quantity for individuals, factoring in their age and personal sleep requirements, will minimize sleep debt and maximize daytime performance. Therefore, setting aside an adequate amount of time for sleep should be a priority; sleep should not be sacrificed at the expense of other activities of daily living. Nevertheless, there are certain therapeutic countermeasures available for individuals who are unable to obtain adequate sleep because of medical or sleep-related conditions (eg, narcolepsy, obstructive sleep apnea) when excessive daytime sleepiness is the main feature of the condition, or residual sleepiness despite treatment for the main conditions is present. These therapeutic countermeasures may also be considered in situations in which occupational constraints (eg, rotating shift work, military duty) dictate that constant or heightened vigilance is important or critical to work performance, crucial decision making, and/or survival. Exploration of the causes of sleep loss or deprivation, whether it is voluntary, or work or family induced, and/or the effects of a medical or sleep disorder, is a necessary first step in the evaluation of a patient who has significant daytime fatigue or sleepiness. Wake-promoting substances and medications such as caffeine, modafinil, methylphenidate, and dextroamphetamine may be considered in situations in which sleep loss is unavoidable or persists despite treatment of an underlying disorder that is characterized by or associated with daytime fatigue or sleepiness.
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