Patients who can not remain awake but for no known cause are sometimes not responsive to our standard stimulant medications. This is frustrating for the patients, as there has been less research done on this than on more common problems like obstructive sleep apnea and insomnia.
Here is an article about a small study our of Emory. Researchers have isolated a chemical in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of patients with excessive sleepiness, called primary hypersomnia. The CSF chemical acts similar to medicines like Valium. In this study, alertness was improved by giving a medicine that blocks the effect of Valium. These results are interesting, because other studies have not found the same alerting affects of that medicine.
But if researchers can pinpoint the chemical, than novel drug therapies may be helpful in improving the lives of those suffering from primary hypersomnias.