Nowadays, due to the lifestyle that people lead in industrialized countries, many people have difficulty falling asleep and need medication to fall asleep. Hypnotics are among them.
There is a great demand for these drugs – also known as hypnotic drugs – from consumers. Yet care must be taken not to abuse them, as they can have adverse health effects. In this article we will address the different sleep-related disorders, as well as review the range of insomnia medications available on the market.
What is insomnia? And what are hypnotics?
This pathology so widespread in industrialized countries is a sleep disorder that consists in the patient being unable to fall asleep or to maintain a state of sleep, or to get enough sleep or to enjoy a quality sleep that allows him to recover. energies and normal wakefulness.
The results highlighted by several studies on this disease suggest that there is another hidden disorder behind it, which goes further. This aspect is important in order to then decide on the treatment of the pathology that triggered this sleep disorder.
On the other hand, insomnia can be classified according to its duration and nature. As for the first aspect, it is classified into:
- Transient: if it lasts less than 7 days, as happens to some women in the pre-menstrual period.
- Short duration: it is the one with a variable duration from one to 3 weeks.
- Chronic: affects people who have been suffering from this problem for at least 3 weeks.
Regarding its nature, insomnia is classified into different types :
- Conciliation: if the patient struggles to sleep.
- Maintenance : if you find it difficult to stay asleep.
- Early awakening.
Medicines to fall asleep and to improve sleep quality: hypnotics
These drugs are psychoactive psychotropic substances that promote sleep, causing drowsiness. There are 6 hypnotic-based therapies to treat insomnia. You start from the first and gradually proceed with the next if the previous one has no effect.
Therapy 1: natural substances
Natural substances to combat this sleep disorder are a widely used option. Specifically, the most used are valerian, lime, passionflower and opioids. Some individuals also resort to other therapies, such as homeopathic ones and natural products.
Therapy 2: non-benzodiazepine drugs to get to sleep
These type of hypnotic drugs are selective agonists of GABA receptors, the inhibitory neurotransmitter of the central nervous system. Some of these are zolpidem, zoplicone and eszoplicone.
At the present time they are giving positive results both in terms of efficacy and tolerance. For this reason, they begin to be first-rate hypnotics, especially in cases of acute insomnia; in the case of the chronic one they are not particularly effective.
Therapy 3: Benzodiazepine drugs for sleep
Benzodiazepines are another type of sleep medication, especially used in the treatment of insomnia. Contrary to the previous ones, these are not selective of the GABA complex.
They have replaced other drugs (barbiturates) such as first choice hypnotics. And, despite their particular effectiveness, they alter the natural structure of sleep, disrupting the REM phase and causing significant side effects.
This therapeutic group also causes tolerance and dependence, so use must be supervised and patients made aware of all necessary information.
Therapy 4: antidepressants with a sedative effect
For some time, some antidepressant drugs have been administered in case of sleep disorders, such as:
As in the case of benzodiazepines, these drugs also alter the normal rhythm of the REM phase, but they do so with different mechanisms of action. In this case, the soporific effect is justified by the action of anticholinergics, as well as by the improvement of aminergic neurotransmission.
Very often, when a patient suffers from severe insomnia, benzodiazepines are not sufficient and these drugs must also be used as adjuvant treatment.
Therapy 5. neuroleptics used as drugs for insomnia
When all of the above medications do not give the desired effects, the use of antipsychotics or neuroleptics may work. Among the most common for this disorder we find:
They are generally administered to patients in old age, in delirium, suffering from mania and with insomnia and psychotics.
We must say that the latest therapy, number 6, is characterized by other drugs, such as antihistamines, melatonin or gabapentin, which are usually used in cases of mild insomnia, such as that caused by jet-lag when traveling. to or from countries with a different time zone.
The hypnotics: conclusions
Nowadays we have a wide range of sleep medications available to help us fight off periods of insomnia. Check with your doctor to find out which is best for you and always follow his advice.