Sleep Disorders: Drug Treatments
In some cases, doctors will prescribe medicines for the
treatment of sleep
disorders. Medications should be used in combination with good sleep practices
and/or behavioral treatments.
Medications are often prescribed for short-term
Types of Medications Used to Treat Sleep Disorders
Listed below are some of
the types of drugs used to treat sleep disorders. Your doctor can prescribe the
appropriate medication for your particular sleep disorder.
- Anti-parkinsonian drugs (dopamine agonists) including
Larodopa, Sinemet, Parlodel, Requip, Permax, and Mirapex. These drugs may be
used to treat restless legs syndrome and periodic limb movement disorder (also
called nocturnal myoclonus syndrome).
- Benzodiazepines, which are included in a class of drugs called hypnotics. Some
types of benzodiazepines include Klonopin, Valium, Restoril, Xanax, and Ativan.
These drugs may be used to treat parasomnias. Occasionally, they are also used
to treat bruxism (teeth grinding) and
- Non-benzodiazepine hypnotics, including Ambien,
Sonata, and newly approved Lunesta (formerly called Estorra). These drugs are
used to treat short-term insomnia.
- Opiates, such as
codeine, oxycodone, methadone, dihydromorphone, and propoxyphene. These drugs
may be used to treat restless legs syndrome that is refractory or present in
- Anticonvulsants, such as Tegretol, Carbatrol; Depakene, Depakote; and
Neurontin. These drugs may be used to treat nocturnal eating syndrome, restless
legs syndrome, periodic limb movement disorder, and insomnia related to bipolar
In the Pipeline
The pharmaceutical company Lundbeck is developing a direct-acting gamma-amino
butyric acid (GABA) agonist to treat sleep disorders. The drug, Gaboxadol, has
entered phase III development for the treatment of insomnia after promising
results from phase II trials.
Reviewed by The Sleep Medicine Center at The Cleveland Clinic.
Edited by Michael J.
, WebMD, September 2004.
Portions of this page © The Cleveland Clinic
Last Editorial Review: 6/20/2005