A Sleeping Pill Without The Sleepy Head?

[I’ll be taking a week+ hiatus – for a real vacation this time!  Thank you in advance for your comments…I’ll catch up when I return.]

B0002689 Neuropeptide receptors in the brain - LP

Time Health & Family ran an interesting piece this week.  It seems researchers have developed a new class of sleeping medication that, in rats and rhesus monkeys anyway, doesn’t leave users with the stupids when they awake in the morning.

The three well-known sleeping pills: diazepam (Valium), zolpidem (Ambien) and eszopiclone (Lunesta), work by slowing down brain activity.

Orexins, which are also known as hypocretins, are brain chemicals that promote wakefulness. Of the brain’s billions of neurons, only tens of thousands produce orexins. People with narcolepsy who have difficulty staying awake and are prone to suddenly falling asleep without warning are missing almost all of the neurons that produce these chemicals. DORA-22 [the new, promising sleep medication] and similar drugs work by blocking orexins by essentially producing a brief and reversible bout of narcolepsy.

But…buyer beware.

“…because the orexin-blockers don’t seem to loop in the pleasure centers of the brain as the existing sleep medications do, they could also have a side effect of prompted bad moods, says Siegel, although that’s not such a problem if it only lasts a few minutes before you fall asleep.

Hmmmm.  Those of us with existing mood disorders need to keep tabs on this as the FDA continues its investigation.

Read more about DORA-22 and Orexins here.

Hmmm, thanks for the heads-up. I’ll take the “stupids” over the “feel-bads” anytime. Luckily, my insurance won’t pay for anything that’s new on the market, so I don’t have to worry about my shrink experimenting 😉

Yes, definitely I have experienced the intense bad mood side-effect after taking Ambien. I was surprised when my psychiatric ARNP asked if I would be interested in a prescription, as I was going to be flying to and from Europe a number of times last fall based on my previous experiences with substance abuse. At the time, I was unaware of the possibility that I might have intense hallucinations in my dreams, and that the next day or two I would feel such a debilitating depression. Although the sleeping pills obviously do work for their intended purpose of inducing deep sleep, I feel we who suffer from mood disorders and bipolar should be wary of taking them.


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