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Non-benzodiazepines are a relatively new class of prescription medications used to treat chronic sleeplessness known as insomnia. These drugs are rapid-acting, affecting sleep-inducing brain receptors almost immediately.

What are Non-benzodiazepines?

Non-benzodiazepines are hypnotic sedatives with similar effects to psychoactive sedatives like benzodiazepine medications. Although these two drugs act on the same neurotransmitters, they vary in chemical structure. Non benzodiazepines are separated into three categories, including imidazopyridines, pyrazolopyrimidies, and cyclopyrrolones. Each type of sedative treats insomnia differently.

In recent decades, non-benzodiazepines have become more popular because of their effectiveness and lack of intense side effects. Unlike non-benzodiazepines, benzodiazepines may cause unusual aggression, violence, amnesia, and deteriorated physical and mental condition.

What are Non-benzodiazepines Used to Treat?

Non-benzodiazepines are most commonly used to treat chronic sleeplessness. Since sleep-inducing medications can become habit-forming, these drugs are only prescribed for short-term use. Using the drug for longer than two weeks may lead to tolerance or dependence. For this reason, use of this drug should be closely monitored by a medical professional.

In addition to treating insomnia, non-benzodiazepines have also been shown to be effective in some cases of depression and anxiety. When used to treat these and other psychological issues, this medication is commonly prescribed alongside other drugs like SSRIs (selective seratonin reuptake inhibitors) or SNRIs (selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors). These drugs regulate mood and emotion by preventing excessive chemical circulation in the brain. Non-benzodiazepines may help to enhance the effectiveness of this type of treatment.

Common Side Effects of Non benzodiazepines

Although nonbenzodiazepines have been shown to cause fewer side effects than benzodiazepines, patients new to this type of medication should note any unusual changes following use of this drug. These side effects may include the following:

  • Decreased libido or interest in sex
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Unusual or disturbing thoughts
  • Suicidal thoughts or tendency
  • Seizures
  • Problems with memory or concentration
  • Confusion
  • Painful menstrual periods
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Feeling unsteady while walking
  • Headaches
  • Dry mouth
  • Swelling of face, tongue or throat
  • Unusual hoarseness
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Daytime drowsiness
  • Blurred vision
  • Numbness or tingling in hands or feet

In addition to these side effects, some patients report unusual sleep behavior. These types of behavior may include (but are not limited to): having conversations, cooking, eating, driving, and having sex while asleep. If you have experienced any of these or other unusual symptoms, inform your doctor immediately.

When used to treat anxiety and depression, as with insomnia, nonbenzodiazepines should only be taken at night. This is because the drug actively improves the brain’s ability to produce and utilize a naturally occurring chemical tranquilizer called GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid). Non benzodiazepines will suppress the body’s reaction times, actively relax muscles, and induce sleep almost immediately. Over time, restful sleep may improve general mood and lead to decreased anxiety.

Deciding if Non-benzodiazepines are Right for You

If you are suffering from symptoms of insomnia, including chronic daytime fatigue and the inability to fall or stay asleep, talk to your doctor to see if non-benzodiazepines could be right for you. If you are currently suffering from symptoms of depression or anxiety, including persistent sadness, chronic fatigue, and loss of interest, an enhanced sleep schedule (with the use of non-benzodiazepines) may help eliminate some of these problems.

Discuss any other medications you are currently taking with your doctor before beginning a regimen that includes this or other types of sedatives. With the help of your physician, you can determine if non-benzodiazepines could be beneficial in combating your symptoms.