Comparing Prescription Sleep Aids: Ambien, Lunesta, Sonata, and Rozerem

Saturday, September 20, 2008 11:10
Posted in category Sleep Aids

Sleep trouble is a common affliction in America. Over 40% of Americans will experience insomnia at some point in their lives. For millions, insomnia is a daily condition. It arises for a variety of reasons, ranging from short-term stress to chronic pain, to abnormal body rhythms. One option for treating insomnia is prescription sleep aids. This article rates and compares the four major sleep aids available on the market today.

This article is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical condition. It is merely meant to compare the advantages and disadvantages of each drug. The information contained was gained by the author’s personal use and research of each drug. This article should not replace or supersede the advice of a medical professional. Take all drugs as they are prescribed, and do not take pills that are not prescribed to you.

There are some clinical terms you’ll need to understand before discussing sleep aids. Half-life is the amount of time that your body takes to eliminate half of the drug from your system. Sleep aids have shorter half-lives than most drugs. This is how the drug is able to act only on during sleeping hours. Some sleep aids have a very short half-life (Sonata), while others span a full night of sleep (Lunesta).

Another term to understand is the non-benzodiazepine class of drugs. Abien, Lunesta, and Sonata all fall into this drug class. These are sedatives, and are chemically-distant relatives of more powerful anti-anxiety drugs like Valium and Xanax. Like their powerful cousins, non-benzodiazepines can be addictive if used daily for long periods or in high doses. One of the side effects of non-benzodiazepine drugs is a non-harmful type of memory loss. Generally, users will have little or no memory retention during the time the drug was having an effect. With sleep aids, this is not usually a problem since the user goes to bed immediately after taking a pill. However, people who take the drug may do things they don’t remember, such as binge eating or talking on the phone. Sometimes this can lead to dangerous situations like driving or cooking, so sleep aid users should take precautions to avoid such situations.

There are some health insurance issues surrounding sleep aids. Insurers dislike paying for brand-name drugs, particularly “voluntary” pills like sleep aids. Many insurers limit the number of pills they will pay for each year. Some cut-rate insurers won’t cover them at all. If an insurer refuses payment, the primary care provider may be able to override this refusal by certifying the patient requires the drug frequently.

Rozerem (or Ramelteon) is the only non-sedative sleep aid available on the market. Introduced in early 2006, it has zero ability to cause addiction. This makes Rozerem an attractive option for people who have prior substance abuse. Rozerem should be tried by individuals who do not respond to other sleep aids.

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