The sodium in sodium oxybate: is there cause for concern?

Sleep Med. 2020 Nov:75:497-501. doi: 10.1016/j.sleep.2020.09.017. Epub 2020 Sep 21.


Sodium oxybate (SO), the sodium salt of γ-hydroxybutyric acid, is one of the primary pharmacologic agents used to treat excessive sleepiness, disturbed nighttime sleep, and cataplexy in narcolepsy. The sodium content of SO ranges from 550 to 1640 mg at 3-9 g, given in two equal nightly doses. Clinicians are advised to consider daily sodium intake in patients with narcolepsy who are treated with SO and have comorbid disorders associated with increased cardiovascular (CV) risk, in whom sodium intake may be a concern. It remains unclear whether all patients with narcolepsy treated with SO should modify or restrict their sodium intake. No data are currently available specific to the sodium content or threshold of SO at which patients might experience increased CV risk. To appraise attributable risk, critical evaluation of the literature was conducted to examine the relationship between CV risk and sodium intake, narcolepsy, and SO exposure. The findings suggest that increased CV risk is associated with extremes of daily sodium intake, and that narcolepsy is associated with comorbidities that may increase CV risk in some patients. However, data from studies regarding SO use in patients with narcolepsy have shown a very low frequency of CV side effects (eg, hypertension) and no overall association with CV risk. In the absence of data that specifically address CV risk with SO based on its sodium content, the clinical evidence to date suggests that SO treatment does not confer additional CV risk in patients with narcolepsy.

Keywords: Cardiovascular risk; Dietary sodium; Narcolepsy; Sodium oxybate.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cataplexy*
  • Disorders of Excessive Somnolence*
  • Humans
  • Narcolepsy* / drug therapy
  • Sodium
  • Sodium Oxybate* / adverse effects


  • Sodium Oxybate
  • Sodium