A new sleep aid drug may help people with insomnia, according to information published in the online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
Taking the sleep aid drug medication suvorexant prolonged the amount of time individuals spent asleep during the night, according to the study. The study involved 254 individuals ages 18 to 64 that had been in good mental and physical health but had insomnia that was not due to another medical condition.
The participants took either a placebo or the drug for four weeks and then switched to the other treatment for an additional four weeks. The participators stayed in a sleep laboratory for the whole night with their sleep monitored on the night with each treatment and then again in the fourth week of each treatment.
While taking the sleep aid drug medication, participants’ “sleep efficiency,” which indicates the total amount of time that they slept during a predetermined eight hour time in bed, improved by 5% to 13% compared to those using the placebo. They also confronted 21 to 37 fewer minutes awake throughout the night after they had fallen asleep than individuals who ingested the placebo.
This study gives evidence that suvorexant may offer a thriving alternative strategy for treating insomnia. Suvorexant was usually well-tolerated, and there were no severe side effects.
More significant, more extended studies have been conducted on suvorexant, along with studies to ascertain whether the sleep aid drug could be effective and safe for people, who make up a large percentage of those suffering from insomnia.
Sleep treatments that target orexin actions are called “orexin receptor antagonists,” which implies that they block the interaction of chemical orexin in the brain. Since this chemical helps in keeping people awake and alert, a medication that blocks its action has the potential to promote sleep.
Which are Orexins?
Orexins (also known as hypocretins) are compounds that are produced by an area of the brain known as the hypothalamus. Orexins are involved with wakefulness and stimulation; we understand this, in part, because some people with narcolepsy (a sleeping disorder which causes chronic sleepiness and involuntarily sleeps)have a reduction of orexin-producing neurons in that region of the brain.
Scientists identified orexins in 1998. Since then, there has been considerable research in their function in regulating arousal and sleep, in addition to their potential as a target for the treatment of sleep disorders like sleeplessness. The sleeping aid, Suvorexant (Belsomra(R)), which inhibits orexins, is the first of its kind to be approved by the FDA. It is available to buy.
How does Orexin Work?
Sleep treatments that target orexin actions are called “orexin receptor antagonists,” which indicates that they prevent the interaction of the chemical orexin in the brain. As this chemical plays a part in keeping people awake and alert, a medicine that prevents its activity has the potential to promote sleep.
How Are Orexin Sleep Aids Distinct From Many Other Sleep Aids?
Orexin sleep treatments influence a different chemical system in the brain than do current prescription and non-prescription sleep support. Many of the generally prescribed sleep treatments cause sleepiness by improving GABA — a broad-reaching inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain. Orexin sleep treatments prevent the brain’s receptors from the chemical orexin. As they target a more specific area of the brain, the hope is that they will cause fewer side effects.
BELSOMRA is a prescription medication for adults who have difficulty falling or staying asleep (insomnia).
This sleep aid drug works differently from other sleep medicines. BELSOMRA particularly targets the activity of orexin, one of the wake neurotransmitters. Only BELSOMRA functions this way.
BELSOMRA is the single prescription sleep treatment that targets and inhibits the action of orexin.
Orexin is a primary promoter of insomnia. By inhibiting orexin, BELSOMRA is consider to help ease the wake pathway.
It’s not known if BELSOMRA is effective and safe for the children under the age of 18 years.
Selected Risk Information
- Don’t take more BELSOMRA than prescribed.
- Don’t take BELSOMRA unless you can keep staying in bed a whole night (minimum seven hours) before you must be active again.
- Take BELSOMRA within half an hour of going to bed.
- BELSOMRA can cause serious side effects you might not know are happening to you. These side effects include:
- not thinking clearly
- confused, behaving strangely, or angry
- sleepiness during the day
- “sleep-walking” or performing other activities when you’re asleep like talking, having sex, eating, or driving a vehicle.
- Call your doctor immediately in case you find out that you’ve done any of these actions after taking BELSOMRA.
- Don’t take BELSOMRA if you fall asleep often at unexpected times (narcolepsy).
- BELSOMRA is a regulated substance because it can be abused or lead to dependence.
- Before using BELSOMRA, tell your doctor about all your medical conditions, including if you:
- have a history of mental illness, depression, or suicidal thoughts
- have a history of alcohol or drug abuse or dependence
- have a history of immediate onset of muscle weakness (cataplexy)
- have breathing or lung difficulties
- have liver problems
- have a history of falling asleep frequently at sudden times (narcolepsy) or daytime drowsiness
- are pregnant or planning a child
- are breastfeeding or want to breastfeed.
- Medicines can mingle with each other, sometimes causing severe side effects. Don’t take BELSOMRA with other drugs that can make you sleepy unless your doctor advises you to.
- Don’t drink alcohol while ingesting BELSOMRA. It can increase your odds of getting side effects.
- Don’t drive, operate heavy machinery, do anything harmful, or perform other tasks that need precise thinking after taking BELSOMRA.
- You might still feel tired the next day after taking BELSOMRA. Don’t drive or do other critical activities until you feel fully alert.
- BELSOMRA may lead to serious side effects, such as:
- Abnormal behavior and thoughts. Symptoms involve more outgoing or offensive behavior than usual, agitation, hallucinations, confusion, worsening of depression, and suicidal thoughts or actions
- memory loss
- temporary inability to talk or speak (sleep paralysis) for up to several minutes while you are going to sleep or waking up
- Temporary weakness in your legs which could happen during the day or the night.
- The most common side effects of BELSOMRA involve drowsiness the next day after you take BELSOMRA.
How Does One Take BELSOMRA?
- Take BELSOMRA just as your doctor directs you to take it.
- Only take BELSOMRA one time every night, if necessary, within thirty minutes of going to bed.
- Only take BELSOMRA when you can find a full night’s sleep (at least 7 hours).
- Don’t take it if you consumed alcohol that day or before sleeping.
- It could be consumed with or without a meal. But, if you take it right after meals, BELSOMRA may take longer to work.
- Call your doctor if your insomnia (sleep difficulty) worsens or isn’t better within 7 to 10 days. This may indicate that there is another condition.
- If you take a lot of BELSOMRA, call your physician right away or get emergency treatment.