The Full Wiki

Hypnotic: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

For the state of mind see Hypnosis.

Hypnotic (also called soporific) drugs are a class of psychoactives whose primary function is to induce sleep[1] and to be used in the treatment of insomnia and in surgical anesthesia. When used in anesthesia to produce and maintain unconsciousness, "sleep" is metaphorical and there are no regular sleep stages or cyclical natural states when used in anesthesia; patients rarely recover from anesthesia feeling refreshed and with renewed energy. Because drugs in this class generally produce dose-dependent effects, ranging from anxiolysis to production of unconsciousness, they are often referred to collectively as sedative-hypnotic drugs.[2] Hypnotic drugs are regularly prescribed for insomnia and other sleep disorders, with over 95% of insomnia patients being prescribed hypnotics in some countries.[3] However, since many hypnotic drugs are habit-forming, a physician may instead recommend alternative sleeping patterns, sleep hygiene, and exercise before prescribing medication for sleep, due to a large number of factors known to disturb the human sleep pattern. Hypnotic medication when prescribed should be used for the shortest period of time possible.[4]

The benzodiazepine and nonbenzodiazepine hypnotic medications also have a number of side effects such as daytime fatigue, motor vehicle crashes, cognitive impairments and falls and fractures. Elderly people are more sensitive to these side effects and a meta analysis found that the risks generally outweigh any marginal benefits of hypnotics in the elderly.[5] A review of the literature regarding benzodiazepine hypnotic as well as Z drugs concluded that these drugs caused an unjustifiable risk to the individual and to public health and lack evidence of long term effectiveness due to tolerance. The risks include dependence, accidents and other adverse effects. Gradual discontinuation of hypnotics leads to improved health without worsening of sleep. Preferably they should be prescribed for only a few days at the lowest effective dose and avoided altogether wherever possible in the elderly.[6]



Benzodiazepines are the most well known and most frequently prescribed hypnotic medication presently. However, their use in recent years is being increasingly replaced by newer nonbenzodiazepine hypnotic drugs and the hormone melatonin, which in North America is called a "supplement". Benzodiazepines are effective in the short term but with long term use beyond 1 – 2 weeks tolerance to their hypnotic effects develops thus making them ineffective for long term use. They are also a cause of hospital admissions especially in the elderly who are more sensitive to their effects[3]. Additionally, benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome can develop upon their discontinuation. This is characterized by rebound insomnia, anxiety, confusion, disorientation, insomnia, and perceptual disturbances. Prescription hypnotics are therefore best limited to short term use to avoid tolerance, drug dependence and the adverse effects of long term use.[7]

Benzodiazepines tend to exert their hypnotic effects at high dosage compared to the more moderate dosage needed for anxiolytic effects to be felt.[8] The downside of the hypnotic properties of benzodiazepines is that they actually worsen the sleep architecture and thus the quality of sleep.[9] They are also associated with an increased risk of road traffic accidents.[10]


Nonbenzodiazepines have demonstrated efficacy in treating some sleep disorders. There is also limited evidence that suggests that tolerance to nonbenzodiazepines is slower to develop than with benzodiazepines. However, data are limited so no conclusions can be drawn. Data are also limited with regard to long term effects of nonbenzodiazepines; further research into the safety and long term effectiveness of nonbenzodiazepines has been recommended in a review of the literature.[11]


These drugs include:

See also


  1. ^ "Dorlands Medical Dictionary:hypnotic". 
  2. ^ Brunton, Laurence L; Lazo, John S; Lazo Parker, Keith L (2006), Goodman & Gilman's The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics, 11th Edition (11 ed.), The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., ISBN 0-07-146804-8, 
  3. ^ a b National Prescribing Service (2 February 2010). "NPS News 67: Addressing hypnotic medicines use in primary care". Retrieved 19 March 2010. 
  4. ^ Mendels J (September 1991). "Criteria for selection of appropriate benzodiazepine hypnotic therapy". J Clin Psychiatry 52 Suppl: 42–6. PMID 1680126. 
  5. ^ Glass J, Lanctôt KL, Herrmann N, Sproule BA, Busto UE (November 2005). "Sedative hypnotics in older people with insomnia: meta-analysis of risks and benefits". BMJ 331 (7526): 1169. doi:10.1136/bmj.38623.768588.47. PMID 16284208. PMC 1285093. 
  6. ^ "What's wrong with prescribing hypnotics?". Drug Ther Bull 42 (12): 89–93. December 2004. PMID 15587763. 
  7. ^ Frighetto L, Marra C, Bandali S, Wilbur K, Naumann T, Jewesson P (March 2004). "An assessment of quality of sleep and the use of drugs with sedating properties in hospitalized adult patients" (PDF). Health Qual Life Outcomes 2: 17. doi:10.1186/1477-7525-2-17. PMID 15040803. PMC 521202. 
  8. ^ Montenegro M, Veiga H, Deslandes A, et al. (June 2005). "[Neuromodulatory effects of caffeine and bromazepam on visual event-related potential (P300): a comparative study."]. Arq Neuropsiquiatr 63 (2B): 410–5. doi:/S0004-282X2005000300009. PMID 16059590. 
  9. ^ Barbera J, Shapiro C (2005). "Benefit-risk assessment of zaleplon in the treatment of insomnia". Drug Saf 28 (4): 301–18. PMID 15783240. 
  10. ^ Gustavsen I, Bramness JG, Skurtveit S, Engeland A, Neutel I, Mørland J (December 2008). "Road traffic accident risk related to prescriptions of the hypnotics zopiclone, zolpidem, flunitrazepam and nitrazepam". Sleep Med. 9 (8): 818–22. doi:10.1016/j.sleep.2007.11.011. PMID 18226959. 
  11. ^ Benca RM (March 2005). "Diagnosis and treatment of chronic insomnia: a review". Psychiatr Serv 56 (3): 332–43. doi:10.1176/ PMID 15746509. 

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address