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Sleep Disorder Medications (cont.)

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2. Barbiturates

Barbiturates are used to treat anxiety, insomnia, and seizure disorders. They are not, however, prescribed as often due to the availability of benzodiazepines and non-benzodiazepines. Barbiturates can be addictive and have strong withdrawal symptoms and rebound (exaggerated) effects on rapid eye movement (REM) sleep when they are abruptly stopped and can interfere with sleep. It is advisable, therefore, to stop barbiturates by slowly lowering their dose over a period of more than five or six days. It also is important to use the correct dose of barbiturates since a relatively small overdose may lead to coma or death.

The main differences among barbiturates are their half-lives (duration of their effects). Drugs such as secobarbital sodium and pentobarbital sodium are short-acting, while others such as amobarbital sodium and butabarbital sodium are intermediate-acting, and phenobarbital and mephobarbital are long-acting.

Examples of barbiturates:

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/15/2012


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