Sleep Home > Methylphenidate Dosing

For those who are treating narcolepsy with methylphenidate, dosing typically starts at 20 mg to 30 mg a day, taken in two or three separate doses. For children ages six and over who are being treated for ADHD, the recommended starting dosage is 5 mg twice a day, taken before breakfast and lunch. In order for the medication to work properly, methylphenidate dosing guidelines must be carefully followed.

An Introduction to Methylphenidate Dosing

The dose of methylphenidate hydrochloride (Ritalin®) that your healthcare provider prescribes will vary, depending on a number of factors, including:
  • Your age
  • Other narcolepsy or ADHD medications you may have tried
  • Other medical conditions you may have
  • Other medications you are currently taking.
As is always the case, do not adjust your dose unless your healthcare provider specifically instructs you to do so.

Methylphenidate Dosing for ADHD and Narcolepsy

For children age six and over, methylphenidate should be started at 5 mg, taken twice daily (before breakfast and lunch). If necessary, your child's healthcare provider may slowly increase the dose to a total of 60 mg per day.
For adults with narcolepsy, the total dosage of methylphenidate per day is usually 20 mg to 30 mg (divided into two or three doses). Some people may need less than this, while others may need as much as 60 mg per day.

General Information on Methylphenidate Dosing

Considerations for people taking methylphenidate include the following:
  • In people who have trouble sleeping, taking the last dose of the day before 6 p.m. may be helpful. In general, for people taking methylphenidate twice a day, the best times to take the medication in order to avoid insomnia are before breakfast and lunch.
  • If you do not take your methylphenidate as scheduled, take your missed dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and return to your regular schedule. Taking a dose after 6 p.m. may cause trouble sleeping. Do not take a double dose.
  • Methylphenidate can be taken with or without food, although it is usually taken 30 to 45 minutes before meals.
  • For the drug to work properly, you have to take it as prescribed. The medication will not work if you take it differently than how your healthcare provider recommends.
  • If you are unsure about anything related to methylphenidate, dosing, or anything else, talk to your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist. Do not stop taking the drug without first discussing it with your healthcare provider.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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