Sodium oxybate comes as a solution (liquid) to mix with water and take by mouth. It is usually taken twice each night because sodium oxybate wears off after a short time, and the effects of one dose will not last for the entire night. The first dose is taken at bedtime, and a second dose is taken 2-1/2 to 4 hours after the first dose. Sodium oxybate must be taken on an empty stomach, so the first dose should be taken at least 2 hours after eating. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand.
Do not take your bedtime dose of sodium oxybate until you are in bed and are ready to go to sleep for the night. Sodium oxybate begins to work very quickly. Place your second dose of sodium oxybate in a safe place near your bed before you go to sleep. Use an alarm clock to be sure that you will wake up in time to take the second dose. If you wake up before the alarm goes off and it has been at least 2-1/2 hours since you took your first dose, take your second dose, turn off the alarm, and go back to sleep.
Your doctor will probably start you on a low dose of sodium oxybate and gradually increase your dose, not more often than once every 2 weeks.
Sodium oxybate may be habit forming. Do not take more of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor. If you take too much sodium oxybate, you may experience life-threatening symptoms including seizures, slowed or stopped breathing, loss of consciousness, and coma. You may also develop a craving for sodium oxybate, feel a need to take larger and larger doses, or want to continue taking sodium oxybate even though it causes unpleasant symptoms. If you have taken sodium oxybate in amounts larger than prescribed by your doctor, and you suddenly stop taking it, you may experience withdrawal symptoms such as difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, restlessness, anxiety, abnormal thinking, loss of contact with reality, sleepiness, upset stomach, shaking of a part of your body that you cannot control, sweating, muscle cramps, and fast heartbeat.
Sodium oxybate may help to control your symptoms but will not cure your condition. Continue to take sodium oxybate even if you feel well. Do not stop taking sodium oxybate without talking to your doctor. Your doctor will probably want to decrease your dose gradually. If you suddenly stop taking sodium oxybate, you may have more attacks of cataplexy and you may experience anxiety and difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep.
To prepare doses of sodium oxybate, follow these steps:
- Open the carton that your medicine came in and remove the bottle of medication and the measuring device.
- Remove the measuring device from its wrapper.
- Open the bottle by pushing down on the cap and turning the cap counterclockwise (to the left) at the same time.
- Place the open bottle upright on a table.
- Hold the bottle upright with one hand. Use your other hand to place the tip of the measuring device in the center opening on the top of the bottle. Press the tip firmly into the opening.
- Hold the bottle and measuring device with one hand. Use your other hand to pull back on the plunger until it is even with the marking that matches the dose your doctor prescribed. Be sure to keep the bottle upright to allow the medication to flow into the measuring device.
- Remove the measuring device from the top of the bottle. Place the tip of the measuring device in one of the dosing cups provided with the medication.
- Press down on the plunger to empty the medication into the dosing cup.
- Add 2 ounces (60 milliliters, 1/4 cup, or about 4 tablespoons) of tap water to the dosing cup. The medication will taste best if you mix it with cold water. Do not mix the medication with fruit juice, soft drinks, or any other liquid.
- Repeat steps 5 through 9 to prepare a dose of sodium oxybate in the second dosing cup.
- Place the caps on both dosing cups. Turn each cap clockwise (to the right) until it clicks and locks in place.
- Rinse the measuring device with water
- Replace the cap on the bottle of sodium oxybate and return the bottle and measuring device to the safe place where they are stored. Place both prepared dosing cups of medication in a safe place near your bed.
- When it is time for you to take the first dose of sodium oxybate, press down on the cap and turn it counterclockwise (to the left). Drink all of the liquid while you are sitting on your bed. Put the cap back on the cup, turn it clockwise (to the right) to lock it in place, and lie down right away.
- When you wake up 2-1/2 to 4 hours later to take the second dose, repeat step 14.