Font Size
A
A
A
...
8
...

Understanding Insomnia Medications (cont.)

Benzodiazepine Hypnotics

Benzodiazepine hypnotic drugs include estazolam (ProSom), flurazepam (Dalmane), temazepam (Restoril), and triazolam (Halcion).

How do benzodiazepine hypnotic drugs work?

These drugs bind to benzodiazepine receptors (omega-1 and omega-2) in the brain, thereby inducing sleep.

Who should not use these medications?

People with the following conditions should not use benzodiazepines:

  • Allergy to benzodiazepines
  • Narrow-angle glaucoma
  • Untreated obstructive sleep apnea
  • History of drug abuse

Use: Take the prescribed dose 30 minutes before bedtime. Elderly individuals are prescribed smaller doses.

Drug or food interactions: Certain drugs, such as cimetidine (Tagamet), azole antifungal medications, antibiotics (for example, erythromycin [E-Mycin, Ery-Tab]), or drugs used to treat AIDS, lessen the body's ability to eliminate benzodiazepines, thereby increasing the risk of toxicity. Some drugs, such as rifampin (Rifadin) or St. John's Wort, may speed the metabolism (breakdown for use in the body) of sedative-hypnotics, thereby decreasing their effectiveness.

Side effects: Benzodiazepines may impair coordination, balance, or mental alertness and are more likely to disrupt REM sleep, causing less restful sleep.

Pregnancy: Benzodiazepines are Pregnancy Category X. This means benzodiazepines are contraindicated in women who are or may become pregnant as they may cause fetal harm when administered to a pregnant woman. Because many drugs are excreted in human milk, caution should be exercised when administered to a woman breastfeeding, as the effect on a nursing infant is not known.

Must Read Articles Related to Understanding Insomnia Medications

Insomnia
Insomnia Insomnia affects most people at some point in their lifetime. Insomnia is actually a symptoms of a condition, disease, or situation. Non-medical treatment of in...learn more >>
Primary Insomnia
Primary Insomnia Primary insomnia is sleeplessness that cannot be attributed to a medical, psychiatric, or environmental cause (such as drug abuse or medications). Treatment may...learn more >>
Sleep Disorders and Aging
Sleep Disorders and Aging Are you one of millions of seniors in the US who think life would be pretty good if you could just get some sleep? Sleep disturbances are very common ...learn more >>




Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Insomnia »

Insomnia is defined as repeated difficulty with the initiation, duration, maintenance, or quality of sleep that occurs despite adequate time and opportunity for sleep that results in some form of daytime impairment.

Read More on Medscape Reference »


Medical Dictionary