Intensive and sustained air operations:
potential use of the stimulant, pemoline

Nicholson AN, Turner C
Royal Air Force School of Aviation Medicine,
Farnborough, Hampshire, United Kingdom.
Aviat Space Environ Med 1998 Jul; 69(7):647-55


BACKGROUND: Intensive and sustained military operations involve long periods of overnight work and the occasional use of a stimulant to maintain performance may be beneficial. In this context a dose response study was carried out to investigate the effects of pemoline, a dopamimetic agent, on overnight work and to assess potential residual effects on subsequent sleep. METHODS: Six healthy volunteers participated in a placebo-controlled, double-blind, cross-over trial involving a 12-h period of work during which subjective alertness and performance on a range of tasks were assessed at 1.5 h intervals following ingestion at 2000 hours of pemoline (10, 20, 30 and 40 mg) and, on two occasions, placebo. The work period was preceded by a 6-h sleep period with temazepam 20 mg, and followed by a 4-h recovery sleep with no medication. All sleep periods were recorded electroencephalographically. RESULTS: There was no difference between sleep periods preceding the work period. Subjective alertness and performance on all tasks deteriorated significantly during the work period, with the earliest impairments in performance observed at 0200 hours. Pemoline increased subjective alertness and performance on all but two tasks, compared with placebo. The onset of activity was seen 4.5 h after drug ingestion and alerting effects of 30 and 40 mg pemoline persisted beyond the work period, disturbing morning recovery sleep. Doses of 10 and 20 mg pemoline had no effect on recovery sleep. CONCLUSION: The present studies indicate that a 20 mg dose of pemoline may be suitable for maintaining nocturnal performance without having adverse effects on recovery sleep.
Sleep deprivation
Methylphenidate SR
Pemoline (Cylert) : structure
Excessive daytime sleepiness

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