July 30, 2016
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Sleep Disorder Medications (cont.)

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What are some examples of hypnotic medications?

1. Nonbarbiturates

Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines have a variety of uses, which include inducing sedation and sleep, relieving anxiety, agitation, and muscle spasms, and prevention of seizures. In general, they help in increasing total sleep time. With benzodiazepines, there may be issues of dependence, toxicity and abuse.

Examples of benzodiazepines:

Non-benzodiazepines

This is a newer class of drugs that is used for the short-term treatment of insomnia. They cause the onset of sleep to occur faster and allow for a longer period of sleep throughout the night. Non-benzodiazepines have a short half-life and have less chance of causing dependency, tolerance, and impairment of daytime activities due to carry-over effects.

Examples of non-benzodiazepines:

  • Imidazopyridines: Ambien, Ambien CR, Intermezzo (zolpidem) (class of its own)
  • Sonata (pyrazolopyrimidine) (class of its own)
  • melatonin receptor stimulator: Rozerem (ramelteon)
  • Notec (chloral hydrate)
  • Precedex (dexmedetomidine hydrochloride)
  • Lunesta (eszopiclone)

Another class of medications that helps with insomnia has become recently available. It acts by decreasing the activity in the wake system (lateral hypothalamus) of our brain, rather than increasing the activity in the sleep centers of our brain. Suvorexant (Belsomra), is an orexin antagonist which decreases activity in the wake center and therefore promoting sleep. It is thought to be generally safe and well tolerated, but some patients may have side effects.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/5/2016


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