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By mouth

Zolpidem is used to treat insomnia (trouble sleeping). It belongs to the group of medicines called central nervous system (CNS) depressants. These medicines… Read more

Brand names include: Ambien, Ambien CR

Into the mouth

Treats insomnia… Read more

Brand names include: Edluar, Intermezzo

Drug classes About this
Nonbarbiturate Hypnotic

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Abuse and dependence potential for the non-benzodiazepine hypnotics zolpidem and zopiclone: a review of case reports and epidemiological data

This review of case reports of the abuse and dependence potential of zolpidem and zopiclone concluded that they are relatively safe. Patients with a history of abuse or dependence, or with psychiatric disease, are at increased risk of abuse or dependence. Methodological and reporting limitations mean that this review alone cannot provide robust evidence of the safety of these drugs.

Drug Class Review: Newer Drugs for Insomnia: Final Report Update 2 [Internet]

Insomnia is a serious health problem that affects millions of people. Population surveys have estimated the prevalence of insomnia to be about 30% to 50% of the general population. About three-fourths of people who have trouble sleeping say that the problem is "occasional," averaging about 6 nights per month, with one-fourth having frequent or chronic insomnia, averaging about 16 nights per month. Individuals with insomnia most often report a combination of difficulty falling asleep and intermittent wakefulness during sleep. Treatment of insomnia involves behavioral changes, such as minimizing habits that interfere with sleep (for example, drinking coffee or engaging in stressful activities in the evening), and pharmacotherapy with sedating antidepressants (for example, trazodone), sedating antihistamines, anticholinergics, benzodiazepines, or nonbenzodiazepine hypnotics. The benzodiazepines and the newer sedative hypnotics zolpidem, zaleplon, zopiclone, and eszopiclone work through gamma-aminobutyric acid receptors. Ramelteon, a hypnotic approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in July 2005, is a selective melatonin receptor (MT1 and MT2) agonist. New nonbenzodiazepine drugs have been sought for multiple reasons, including reduction of the risk of tolerance, dependence, and abuse associated with benzodiazepines. The purpose of this review is to evaluate the comparative evidence on benefits and harms of these medications in people with insomnia to help policymakers and clinicians make informed choices about the use of newer drugs for insomnia.

Dementia: A NICE-SCIE Guideline on Supporting People With Dementia and Their Carers in Health and Social Care

This guideline has been developed to advise on supporting people with dementia and their carers in health and social care. The guideline recommendations have been developed by a multidisciplinary team of health and social care professionals, a person with dementia, carers and guideline methodologists after careful consideration of the best available evidence. It is intended that the guideline will be useful to practitioners and service commissioners in providing and planning high-quality care for those with dementia while also emphasising the importance of the experience of care for people with dementia and carers.

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Summaries for consumers

Comparing Newer Drugs for Insomnia

How do newer drugs compare in the treatment of insomnia?

Effects of opioid, hypnotic and sedating medications on obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) in adults with known OSA

Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is a common sleep disorder characterised by intermittent apnoeas (pauses in breathing) leading to dips in oxygen levels in the blood during sleep. Many people with known or unknown (undiagnosed) OSA receive hypnotics, sedatives and opiate/opioid drugs to treat other conditions including pain, anxiety and difficulty sleeping. Opiates/opioids are commonly prescribed to treat pain after major surgery. These drugs might make sleep apnoea worse ‐ increasing the frequency and duration of apnoeas.

Using medication: What can help when trying to stop taking sleeping pills and sedatives?

The best way to stop taking sleeping pills and sedatives is to gradually reduce the dose with the guidance of a doctor. Psychological and psychotherapeutic support might increase the likelihood of succeeding.

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