Jul 23, 2019
Half of the millions using the most common type of sleeping pills might never wake to escape a fire. Taken to induce sleep and relaxation, the popular benzodiazepine medications or benzos for short include Restoril, Halcion, Ativan, Xanax, and Valium. This class of drugs induces drowsiness but also suppresses emergency arousal. Even newer drugs such as Ambien and Lunesta trigger sustained drowsiness and some disorientation.
A new class of medication called DORAs, dual orexin receptor antagonists, induce sleep but permit retention of sensory input including sound, vibration, smell, and lack of oxygen. This makes for a safer sleeping pill. After a threat has passed, the medication also re-induces sleep.
To date, only one DORA sleeping pill has won FDA approval. Belsomra (suvorexant) may only be prescribed those 18 years or older, but its expensive and often not covered by insurance. As other DORA drugs become available, competition will drive down price and increase availability.
Shouhei Iwakawa, Yuichi Kanmura, Tomoyuki Kuwaki. Orexin Receptor Blockade-Induced Sleep Preserves the Ability to Wake in the Presence of Threat in Mice. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 2019; 12 DOI: 10.3389/fnbeh.2018.00327
#insomnia #sleepingpill #benzo #benzodiazepine