Sleep Home > Methylphenidate

How Does It Work?

Methylphenidate is a stimulant, although it can have effects that are opposite from what would be expected of a stimulant. While stimulants (like caffeine) can cause hyperactivity, methylphenidate has a calming effect when used at the doses intended for the treatment of ADHD. While it is unknown exactly how the drug produces a calming effect, it is known to affect certain chemicals in the brain (see Ritalin and D2 Receptors).
For people with narcolepsy, methylphenidate acts as a stimulant (because it is taken in higher doses). This helps people with the condition to be alert and to stay awake during the day.
(Click Ritalin Effects for more information about how the drug works.)

When and How to Take Methylphenidate

General considerations for when and how to take methylphenidate include the following:
  • The medication comes in tablet form. It is usually taken by mouth two or three times a day.
  • Usually, the last dose should be taken before 6 p.m. (taking it later could cause difficulty sleeping).
  • You can take methylphenidate with or without food.
  • For methylphenidate to work properly, it must be taken as prescribed. The medication will not work if you stop taking it.

Dosage Information

The dose of methylphenidate your healthcare provider recommends will vary, depending on a number of factors, including:
  • Your age
  • Other narcolepsy or ADHD medications you have tried
  • Other medical conditions you may have
  • Other medications you are currently taking.
As with any medication, do not adjust your dose unless your healthcare provider specifically instructs you to do so.
(Click Methylphenidate Dosing for more information.)
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
List of references (click here):
Other Articles in This eMedTV Presentation

Topics & Medications


Related Channels

eMedTV Links
Copyright © 2006-2020 Clinaero, Inc.

eMedTV serves only as an informational resource. This site does not dispense medical advice or advice of any kind. Site users seeking medical advice about their specific situation should consult with their own physician. Click Terms of Use for more information.

This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information:
verify here.