Distinct effects of orexin receptor antagonist and GABAA agonist on sleep and physical/cognitive functions after forced awakening.

Research Highlight

All the sleep with fewer side effects

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A recently approved drug for treating insomnia has fewer physical side effects than a commonly prescribed drug.

Insomnia is one of the most prevalent sleeping disorders. It is often treated using drugs that enhance the action of the inhibitory neurotransmitter γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA). But this inhibits neurons throughout the brain, including those not involved in sleep. In contrast, the new drug suvorexant only inhibits neurons associated with wakefulness.

A team led by researchers at Tsukuba University in Japan has compared the side effects of both drugs. They found that while subjects who took a drug that activates GABA receptors in the brain exhibited significant impairment in physical and cognitive performance on being woken compared with those who had taken a placebo, those who took suvorexant did not. Both drugs were equally effective in inducing sleep.

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  1. PNAS 116, 24353–24358 (2019). doi: 10.1073/pnas.1907354116
Institutions Authors Share
University of Tsukuba, Japan
Tokyo Seiei College (TSC), Japan
The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (UT Southwestern Medical Center), United States of America (USA)