Sleep Disorder Drugs (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
Are there differences among hypnotics?
There are a variety of hypnotics that are used for treating insomnia. The main difference among the various hypnotics is their half-life, that is, how long the drug is active in the body.
- The half-life determines the type and duration of hypnotic effects and the unwanted side effects.
- When hypnotic drugs have long half-lives, the drug itself or the chemicals that the body makes from the drug tend to accumulate with nightly use, and the accumulation can cause impairment of normal day-time functions involving thought and motor skills.
There also is a larger risk of interactions with other drugs due to a carry-over effect of the hypnotic drug. In contrast, when hypnotic drugs with short half-lives are taken, the drugs are cleared from the body before the next dose is ingested or other drugs are taken, hence the carry-over effects are minimal or absent and do not affect thought and motor skills.
What are the side effects of hypnotics?
Side effects of hypnotics include:
- Relaxed feeling
- Lack of concentration
- Disorders of coordination
- Chest pains
- Rapid heart rate
- Abnormal behaviors during sleep including sleep walking and other sleep related activities
Side effects involving the stomach and intestines include:
- Abdominal pain
- Loss of appetite
- Alterations in taste
- Dry mouth
- Excessive salivation (rare)
If any of these side effects persist or worsen, a physician should be notified promptly.
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