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The clinical use of hypnotics: indications for use and the need for a variety of hypnotics.

Abstract

Insomnia may be categorized as difficulty falling asleep, frequent awakening, early awakenings or a combination of each. The ideal hypnotic must promote rapid sleep onset and maintain sleep throughout the night while allowing the patient to awake refreshed the following day. Several benzodiazepines, with differing pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic profiles are presently available. All are clinically effective and not only elimination half-life but also dosage prescribed and pattern of distribution are important factors for determining treatment response. Hypnotics have been divided into those with long elimination half-lives (e.g. nitrazepam, flunitrazepam, flurazepam), those with intermediately long half-lives (brotizolam, loprazolam, lormetazepam, temazepam) and those with short half-lives (midazolam and triazolam). Carry-over effects into the morning such as excessive daytime sleepiness or drowsiness are related to drug half-life, dosage and pattern of distribution. In equipotent dosages most controlled clinical trials have found no significant differences between the various benzodiazepine hypnotics. Nevertheless, clinicians in general tend to use long half-life benzodiazepines in patients who have difficulties maintaining sleep and short half-life benzodiazepines for treating sleep onset insomnia. Intermediately long half-life, benzodiazepines are used for both indications and most clinicians feel that the choice of hypnotic should not only be influenced by elimination half-life or the dosage used, but by individual patient preference. Hypnotics should be used for only short periods of time and in those patients for whom a more chronic use is indicated, they should be used only on an intermittent basis.

PMID:
2883820
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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