What is the role of sedative-hypnotic drugs in the treatment of insomnia?

Updated: Sep 11, 2018
  • Author: Jasvinder Chawla, MD, MBA; Chief Editor: Selim R Benbadis, MD  more...
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Answer

Sedative-hypnotic medications do not usually cure insomnia, but they can provide symptomatic relief as sole therapy or as an adjunct with CBT. Furthermore, some patients cannot adhere to or do not respond to CBT and are candidates for these agents. The nonbenzodiazepine receptor agonists (eg, eszopiclone, zolpidem, zaleplon) are believed to be less habit-forming than benzodiazepines and, therefore, represent important advances in the long-term treatment of chronic insomnia.

The most appropriate use of nonbenzodiazepine receptor agonists is for transient and short-term insomnia in combination with nonpharmacologic treatment. Most authorities now agree that they should infrequently be the only therapy for chronic insomnia.


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