Sleep Disorder Medications (cont.)
Annette (Gbemudu) Ogbru, PharmD, MBA
Dr. Gbemudu received her B.S. in Biochemistry from Nova Southeastern University, her PharmD degree from University of Maryland, and MBA degree from University of Baltimore. She completed a one year post-doctoral fellowship with Rutgers University and Bristol Myers Squibb.
In this Article
- Sleep disorder drugs (hypnotic and sedative drugs) overview
- For what conditions are hypnotics used?
- Are there differences among hypnotics?
- What are the side effects of hypnotics?
- What are the drug interactions of hypnotics?
- What are some examples of hypnotic medications?
- Nonprescription sleep-aids
- Anti-Parkinson drugs
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:
- Nembutal (phenobarbital)
- Mebaral (mephobarbital)
- Amytal Sodium (amobarbital sodium)
- Butisol (butabarbital sodium)
- Seconal Sodium Pulvules (secobarbital sodium)
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