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Aviat Space Environ Med. 2007 Jan;78(1):10-20.

Cognitive performance following premature awakening from zolpidem or melatonin induced daytime sleep.

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NTI, Inc., Brooks City-Base, TX 78235-5105, USA.



The hypnotic zolpidem and the hormone melatonin were evaluated and directly compared for their effects on performance when subjects sleeping under their influence were prematurely awakened from daytime sleep.


Non-sleep deprived volunteers (eight men and five women) received single oral doses of 5 or 10 mg melatonin (Mel-5; Mel-10), 10 or 20 mg zolpidem (Zol-10; Zol-20), or placebo immediately before retiring at 13:00. Performance testing and subjective evaluations occurred prior to dosing and following forced awakening at 15:00, 2 h after dosing.


Compared with placebo, on being awakened under Zol-20, significant performance decrements were prevalent on 9 of 10 cognitive tasks, including grammatical reasoning, mathematical processing, and word memory. Recovery required up to 6 h post-awakening for the more complex tasks. Loss of coordination and nausea were also present on awakening under Zol-20. On being awakened under Zol-10, significant but relatively less severe and shorter duration performance decrements occurred for 4 of the 10 tasks and recovered by 4 h post-awakening. Under Mel-5 or Mel-10, performance decrements seldom occurred and were considerably less severe, briefer, and less systematic than for zolpidem.


Findings indicated that when operational personnel sleeping with the aid of either 10 or 20 mg zolpidem are prematurely awakened, it would be prudent to evaluate their general well-being and possible need for assistance prior to their being permitted to depart crew-rest or to perform tasks and duties. In contrast, we found little to no evidence of deteriorated well-being or need for assistance when awakened while sleeping under the influence of melatonin.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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