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

© Tom Merton/Getty

© Tom Merton/Getty

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 Share
University of Tsukuba, Japan 0.90
Tokyo Seiei College (TSC), Japan 0.08
The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (UT Southwestern Medical Center), United States of America (USA) 0.02