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This makes sleeping pills safer

This makes sleeping pills safer



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New sleeping pills enable a safer sleep

Many people have problems with their nighttime sleep. Those affected often use sleeping pills. However, such products can have unpleasant side effects. When people take prescription sleep pills, they are usually so strong that users don't wake up even when there's a fire alarm in the house. New drugs are now said to fix this problem.

Physicians have already warned that users of prescription sleep pills run the risk of not waking up even if there is a fire alarm in the house. Researchers at Kagoshima University in Japan therefore investigated a new class of so-called hypnotic drugs, which act like sleeping pills, but which make people wake up during an emergency. The experts published the results of their study in the English-language journal "Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience".

Half of the subjects did not respond to a fire alarm

If your house catches fire in the middle of the night, you want to wake up safely and quickly get yourself out of danger. In the current study, however, half of the study participants who took prescription sleep pills continued to sleep despite a fire alarm, even though it was as loud as if it was being sucked next to their bed. The scientists estimate that millions of people taking prescription sleep pills like Ambien and Halcion would continue to sleep on a fire alarm.

Benzodiazepines suppress different areas of the brain

Benzodiazepines are the most commonly prescribed types of sleeping pills that put the brain into a so-called sleep mode. Unfortunately, these drugs suppress various areas of the human brain. This includes the area of ​​the brain that decides what external information to look for despite sleep, such as noises at night.

Benefits of hypnotic sleeping pills

In the past decade, scientists have developed a new class of hypnotic drugs called dual orexin receptor antagonists (DORAs). DORAs target the sleep and wake-up pathways of the brain, making them a safer alternative to benzodiazepines and, at the same time, causing fewer negative effects. When tested in laboratory mice, animals given benzodiazepine triazolam woke up more slowly compared to mice given DORA-22, the study authors explain. For their investigation, the doctors confronted the animals with sounds from a fox, a serious threat to a mouse. Once the danger was over, the mice given DORA-22 fell asleep as quickly as the mice given a conventional sleeping pill. All animals fell asleep much faster than mice who were given no sleeping pills at all.

More research is needed

Now more tests are needed to determine if DORAs are recommended as sleep aids in humans. Since 2014, a DORA called Surovexant has received regulatory approval in Japan, the United States and Australia. High costs and limited clinical trials of Surovexant have hindered its use, but new DORA types that are currently under development could one day offer better results at lower costs, the experts explain. (as)

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