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J Clin Psychopharmacol. 1989 Jun;9(3):161-72.

Rebound insomnia: a critical review.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Diego.


Rebound insomnia, a worsening of sleep compared with pretreatment levels, has been reported upon discontinuation of short half-life benzodiazepine hypnotics. This paper reviews the existing sleep laboratory studies for the presence or absence of rebound insomnia following treatment with triazolam, temazepam, and flurazepam in insomniac patients or poor sleepers and, when possible, in normals. The results indicate that rebound insomnia is a distinct possibility after discontinuation of triazolam in both insomniacs and normal controls. Compared with baseline, disturbed sleep was reported in insomniacs or poor sleepers for the first 1 or 2 nights of withdrawal in seven of nine polygraphically recorded sleep studies following triazolam 0.5 mg and in one of two studies following triazolam 0.25 mg. In one study conducted in normal volunteers, rebound insomnia was observed following triazolam 0.5 mg but not triazolam 0.25 mg. In another study, which used subjective reports of sleep rather than polygraphic recordings, rebound insomnia was significantly attenuated after triazolam 0.5 mg by tapering the dose over 4 nights. The risk of rebound insomnia after temazepam 15 or 30 mg was low. In keeping with its long elimination half-life, flurazepam (30 mg) continued to exert beneficial effects for the first 2-3 withdrawal nights, but the possibility of a mild rebound insomnia cannot be dismissed during the intermediate withdrawal period (nights 4-10) following prolonged, consecutive, nightly administration (more than 30 nights). The benzodiazepine hypnotics are generally preferred over other types (barbiturates or nonbenzodiazepine, nonbarbiturate), but there are advantages and disadvantages related to half-life of the benzodiazepines. The risk of rebound insomnia is greater with the short half-life as compared with the long half-life benzodiazepines.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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