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Depakote: Can It Make You Sleepy?

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Depakote, also known as divalproex sodium, is a medication commonly prescribed to treat various conditions, including epilepsy, bipolar disorder, and migraines. While it can be highly effective in managing these conditions, some individuals may experience drowsiness or sleepiness as a side effect. In this article, we will explore the relationship between Depakote and sleepiness, and provide some tips on how to manage this potential side effect.

Understanding Depakote

Depakote is an anticonvulsant and mood-stabilizing medication that works by increasing the levels of a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. By doing so, it helps to reduce abnormal brain activity that can lead to seizures, mood swings, and migraines.

The Role of GABA

GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that helps to regulate brain activity. It has a calming effect on the central nervous system, which is why medications that increase GABA levels, such as Depakote, are often prescribed for conditions that involve excessive brain activity.

Sleepiness as a Potential Side Effect

While not everyone experiences sleepiness as a side effect of Depakote, it is a known possibility. The exact reason why some individuals may become sleepy while taking the medication is not fully understood, but it is believed to be related to the medication’s effects on GABA levels.

Impact on Sleep-Wake Cycle

Depakote can potentially affect the sleep-wake cycle, leading to feelings of drowsiness or sleepiness. It may interfere with the natural progression of sleep stages, causing disruptions in the quality and duration of sleep. This can result in daytime sleepiness and a general feeling of fatigue.

Managing Sleepiness

If you find that Depakote is making you sleepy, it is important to discuss this with your healthcare provider. They may be able to adjust your dosage or recommend alternative medications that have a lower likelihood of causing sleepiness.

Stick to a Sleep Schedule

Establishing a regular sleep schedule can help regulate your body’s internal clock and promote better sleep quality. Aim to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. Avoid napping during the day, as this can interfere with your ability to fall asleep at night.

Create a Sleep-Friendly Environment

Make your bedroom a peaceful and comfortable space that is conducive to sleep. Keep the room cool, dark, and quiet. Consider using earplugs, an eye mask, or a white noise machine to block out any disturbances that could disrupt your sleep.

Practice Relaxation Techniques

Engaging in relaxation techniques before bedtime can help prepare your body and mind for sleep. Deep breathing exercises, meditation, and gentle stretching can all promote relaxation and reduce feelings of stress or anxiety that may contribute to difficulty falling asleep.

Avoid Stimulants

Avoid consuming stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol close to bedtime. These substances can interfere with your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. Instead, opt for a soothing herbal tea or warm milk to promote relaxation.


While Depakote can potentially cause sleepiness as a side effect, not everyone will experience this symptom. It is important to discuss any concerns or side effects with your healthcare provider, as they can provide guidance on how to manage them effectively. By following the tips mentioned in this article, you can help minimize sleepiness and promote better sleep while taking Depakote.

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