Intended for healthcare professionals


Non-benzodiazepine hypnotics: do they work for insomnia?

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 02 January 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:e8699
  1. David Cunnington, sleep physician and director
  1. 1Melbourne Sleep Disorders Centre, East Melbourne, VIC 3002, Australia
  1. david.cunnington{at}

Their modest effect highlights the need to use alternative approaches

Insomnia is a common disorder that greatly affects health and quality of life as well as having direct and indirect costs for healthcare systems and society.1 2 People with insomnia present to many areas of healthcare: primary care; specialist services, such as internal medicine and psychiatry; and allied health providers. Healthcare practitioners therefore need to understand the treatment options available for insomnia and their relative effectiveness.

In a linked research paper (doi:10.1136/bmj.e8343), Huedo-Medina and colleagues report on the effectiveness of non-benzodiazepine hypnotics in the treatment of adults with insomnia.3 The authors aimed to reduce the impact of publication bias by using all studies submitted to the Food and Drug Administration for drug approval, thereby adding to the current literature. They found that non-benzodiazepine hypnotics reduced the time taken to fall asleep (sleep onset latency) by 22 minutes (95% confidence interval −33 to −11) …

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