PerspectivePhysiology

The Perfect Hypnotic?

Science  05 Apr 2013:
Vol. 340, Issue 6128, pp. 36-38
DOI: 10.1126/science.1237998

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Summary

The market for hypnotics is big business, with 10 to 15% of the population in the United States suffering from chronic insomnia (1, 2). Although the pathology is unknown, and likely heterogeneous, patients with insomnia are in a state of hyperarousal (even during the day), suggesting that wake-promoting systems are hyperactive (3). The search for the ideal hypnotic has been marked by cycles of exuberance followed by disappointment, as adverse side effects associated with each new class of drug have emerged following wide use. Although insomnia therapy increasingly uses cognitive behavioral therapy, the enormous number of sufferers mandates new pharmacological approaches. Uslaner et al. (4) report the prospect of a new class of compound with a new mode of action that may usher in a new era for insomnia treatment, with the potential for fewer side effects.