This class of drugs is effective in treating sleep disorders, such as insomnia. They show less risk for tolerance and dependance when compared to benzodiazepines.
This drug class works rapidly and has a short half-life due to quick metabolism by liver enzymes.
These drugs work by acting via the BZ1 subtype of the GABA receptor, which increases chloride conductance. This is similar to the mechanism of action of benzodiazepines, but these two drug classes are not structurally similar.
Compared to benzodiazepines, nonbenzodiazepines have overall lower risk of dependence, tolerance and abuse. They cause less day-after psychomotor depression and amnestic effects relative to older sedative-hypnotics.
Zolpidem is a commonly used drug of this class, and is also known as Ambien. Zolpidem helps to reduce sleep onset latency, and may also have some minimal anxiolytic activity. Other nonbenzodiazepine hypnotics are zaleplon and eszopiclone.
Patients may become impaired after taking this medication and may have trouble coordinating muscle movements and can appear to be very confused.
Effects of this drug class can be blocked or reversed by flumazenil.
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