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No Clear Winner Among Newer Sleep Aids

Ambien, Lunesta and Sonata all have their pluses and minuses, study found

FRIDAY, Dec. 9, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- No single sleeping pill stands out as the best, according to a U.S. review of the newer sleep aids on the market.

The researchers reviewed 141 studies of the sleeping pills Sonata, Ambien, Lunesta and a Canadian brand called Imovane. These are all considered newer sleeping aids and are commonly prescribed for insomnia in place of older benzodiazepine sleeping aids such as Halcion, ProSom and Restoril.

The Oregon Health and Science University review concluded that these newer sleeping pills were more effective than placebo pills at treating insomnia symptoms and that "although there are some differences between the drugs on some outcomes, no one drug appeared to be consistently superior."

For example, Sonata seemed better than Ambien at putting people to sleep quickly, while people taking Ambien slept longer and reported having a better quality of sleep than people who took Sonata.

"Although there are some differences among the drugs on the different outcomes, it does not follow that one drug would necessarily be more or less effective for patients with one type of insomnia over another," the authors said. "We found no studies comparing the different drugs in patients with different insomnia complaints, so we do not know for sure that one drug would work better in one patient over another."

They also found that the newer sleeping pills had similar rates of short-term side effects such as headaches and daytime sleepiness.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about insomnia.

SOURCE: Health Behavior News Service, news release, Dec. 9, 2005
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