Suvorexant drug may offer new approach to treating insomnia

A new drug may bring help for people with insomnia, according to a study published in the November 28, 2012, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

The drug, suvorexant, blocks the in the brain called orexins, which regulate . Other drugs for insomnia affect different .

Taking the drug suvorexant increased the amount of time people spent asleep during the night, according to the study. The study involved 254 people ages 18 to 64 who were in good physical and mental health but had insomnia that was not due to another .

The participants took either the drug or a placebo for four weeks, then switched to the other treatment for another four weeks. The participants spent the night in a sleep laboratory with their sleep monitored on the first night with each treatment and then again in the fourth week of each treatment.

While taking the drug, participants' "sleep efficiency," which reflects the total amount of time they slept during a fixed, eight hour time in bed, improved by 5 to 13 percent compared to those taking the placebo. They also experienced 21 to 37 fewer minutes awake during the night after they had fallen asleep than those who took the placebo.

"This study provides evidence that suvorexant may offer a successful alternative strategy for treating insomnia," said study author W. Joseph Herring, MD, PhD, of North Wales, Penn., Executive Director of with Merck, the maker of suvorexant, and a member of the American Academy of Neurology. "Suvorexant was generally well-tolerated, and there were no serious side effects."

Herring said larger, longer studies have recently been conducted on suvorexant, along with studies to determine whether the drug could be safe and effective for elderly people, who make up a large percentage of those suffering from .

Related Stories

Making headway on beta-blockers and sleep

Sep 28, 2012

Over 20 million people in the United States take beta-blockers, a medication commonly prescribed for cardiovascular issues, anxiety, hypertension and more. Many of these same people also have trouble sleeping, a side effect ...

'Night owls' report more insomnia-related symptoms

Apr 15, 2007

Those persons who are labeled a “night owl” report more pathological symptoms related to insomnia, despite many having the opportunity to compensate for their nocturnal sleeplessness by extending their time in bed and ...

Study: Insomnia linked to hypertension

Jun 06, 2012

People with insomnia may now have one more thing to keep them up at night: an increased likelihood of developing hypertension, according to a study from Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.

Recommended for you

New ALS associated gene identified using innovative strategy

23 hours ago

Using an innovative exome sequencing strategy, a team of international scientists led by John Landers, PhD, at the University of Massachusetts Medical School has shown that TUBA4A, the gene encoding the Tubulin Alpha 4A protein, ...

Can bariatric surgery lead to severe headache?

23 hours ago

Bariatric surgery may be a risk factor for a condition that causes severe headaches, according to a study published in the October 22, 2014, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurol ...

Bipolar disorder discovery at the nano level

23 hours ago

A nano-sized discovery by Northwestern Medicine scientists helps explain how bipolar disorder affects the brain and could one day lead to new drug therapies to treat the mental illness.

User comments