Suvorexant drug may offer new approach to treating insomnia

November 28, 2012

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 .

Explore further: FDA reviewing Merck's experimental insomnia drug

Related Stories

FDA reviewing Merck's experimental insomnia drug

November 8, 2012
(AP)—Drugmaker Merck & Co. says the Food and Drug Administration is reviewing its experimental insomnia medication, suvorexant (SOO'vor-eks-ant).

Making headway on beta-blockers and sleep

September 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 ...

Cooling the brain during sleep may be a natural and effective treatment for insomnia

June 13, 2011
People with primary insomnia may be able to find relief by wearing a cap that cools the brain during sleep, suggests a research abstract that will be presented Monday, June 13, in Minneapolis, Minn., at SLEEP 2011, the 25th ...

Study: Insomnia linked to hypertension

June 6, 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

Social influences can override aggression in male mice, study shows

July 27, 2017
Stanford University School of Medicine investigators have identified a cluster of nerve cells in the male mouse's brain that, when activated, triggers territorial rage in a variety of situations. Activating the same cluster ...

In witnessing the brain's 'aha!' moment, scientists shed light on biology of consciousness

July 27, 2017
Columbia scientists have identified the brain's 'aha!' moment—that flash in time when you suddenly become aware of information, such as knowing the answer to a difficult question. Today's findings in humans, combined with ...

Scientists become research subjects in after-hours brain-scanning project

July 27, 2017
A quest to analyze the unique features of individual human brains evolved into the so-called Midnight Scan Club, a group of scientists who had big ideas but almost no funding and little time to research the trillions of neural ...

Researchers reveal unusual chemistry of protein with role in neurodegenerative disorders

July 27, 2017
A common feature of neurodegenerative diseases is the formation of permanent tangles of insoluble proteins in cells. The beta-amyloid plaques found in people with Alzheimer's disease and the inclusion bodies in motor neurons ...

Mother's brain reward response to offspring reduced by substance addiction

July 27, 2017
Maternal addiction and its effects on children is a major public health problem, often leading to high rates of child abuse, neglect and foster care placement. In a study published today in the journal Human Brain Mapping, ...

'Residual echo' of ancient humans in scans may hold clues to mental disorders

July 26, 2017
Researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) have produced the first direct evidence that parts of our brains implicated in mental disorders may be shaped by a "residual echo" from our ancient past. The more ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.