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A new class of drugs could make safer sleeping pills


If your house burned in the middle of the night, would you like to wake up to handle the emergency or what?

In a new prescription sleeping pill study released this week in Frontier in Behavioral Neuroscience half of the study participants slept as high as someone who was vacuuming next to their bed. Researchers from Kagoshima University, Japan estimated that millions of people taking prescription sleeping pills such as Ambien and Halcion would sleep through a fire alarm. They suggest that a new class of hypnotic drugs can be used as an alternative that will act as a sleeping pill while still allowing the brain to wake up during an emergency.

DORA The hypnotic medicine

The most prescribed type of sleeping pills, benzodiazepines, are really effective in getting the brain into "sleep mode". Unfortunately, they act as a kind of blanket and suppress areas of the brain that they do not need. It includes the brain area that determines which external information such as. Sounds at night to be aware of.

Over the last decade, researchers have developed a new class of hypnotic drugs called double orexin receptor antagonists (DORAs). DORAs are more selectively targeted to the brain's sleep / tissue traces, making them a safer alternative to benzodiazepines, while leaving the user a reduced timber-like effect that these substances can cause.

Wake-up Call

When tested in laboratory mice, those who had been given benzodiazepine triazolam were slower to wake up than those who received DORA-22 when presented with a fox's sound, a serious threat to a mouse. Even better, when the father had gone, the mice given DORA-22 fell asleep as fast as the mice that had been given a sleeping pill, and significantly faster than mice that had not received anything at all.

More human testing is needed to show DORAs have potential applications as sleep aids. Since 201

4, a DORA called surovexant has been granted regulatory approval in Japan, the United States and Australia. High cost and limited clinical testing of surovexant has hampered its use, but new types of DORAs currently under development can offer better results at a lower cost.

READ MORE: Millions on prescription sleeping pills would sleep through a fire alarm [EurekAlert]

More about sleep: Here's how sleeping too little literally transforms your brain [19659012]
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