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J Clin Psychiatry. 1994 May;55(5):192-9.

A multicenter, placebo-controlled study evaluating zolpidem in the treatment of chronic insomnia.

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Center for Research in Sleep Disorders, Mercy Hospital of Hamilton, Fairfield, Cincinnati, Ohio 45246.



Zolpidem is a short-acting, nonbenzodiazepine hypnotic with rapid onset of action. Even though it is not a benzodiazepine, it binds to one of three types of central benzodiazepine receptors, showing selective binding to the type 1 benzodiazepine receptor subtype. Therapeutic hypnotic dosages do not disturb normal sleep patterns (sleep architecture).


A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel group multicenter trial was conducted to determine the effectiveness of 10 mg and 15 mg of zolpidem in the long-term (35 nights) treatment of chronic insomnia in 75 patients. Sleep stage effects and motor and cognitive effects during the 35-night treatment period and the 3-night posttreatment period were also investigated.


Within the first week of treatment, 10 mg of zolpidem had a significant effect on latency to persistent sleep and sleep efficiency. Efficacy was maintained throughout the 35 nights of drug administration. There was no evidence of residual effect with 10 mg of zolpidem. Stage 3-4 sleep was preserved at both the 10-mg and 15-mg zolpidem dosages. There was no evidence of tolerance at either dose and no significant treatment differences between the 10-mg zolpidem group and placebo in latency to persistent sleep or sleep efficiency during the posttreatment period. Also, the 10-mg zolpidem dosage was judged by the patients to have helped them fall asleep. Similar results were observed with the 15-mg zolpidem dosage. However, there were significant decreases in REM sleep at Weeks 3 and 4 with 15 mg of zolpidem compared with placebo. Overall, incidence rates of treatment-emergent adverse events in the zolpidem groups were similar to those in the placebo group.


This is the first sleep laboratory study using a parallel placebo group to demonstrate efficacy for longer than 4 weeks with a hypnotic agent. In this study 10 mg of zolpidem was found to be safe and effective for the long-term treatment of chronic insomnia, demonstrating hypnotic efficacy without affecting sleep stages or producing tolerance effects, rebound effects, or detrimental effects on psychomotor performance. The 15-mg zolpidem dosage provided no clinical advantage over the 10-mg zolpidem dosage.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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