Japanese scientists believe they may be on track to develop a safer sleeping pill.
An experimental drug showed promising results, with the subjects being able to be better roused, compared to standard sleeping medications, according to a study published in the journal, Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience.
Professor Tomoyuki Kuwaki and his team used mice to study the ability to wake in response to a threatening stimuli. Those threats included an ultrasonic noise, shaking the cage, the scent of a fox or oxygen deprivation.
Mice were given a dual orexin receptor antagonist-22 (DORA-22), a benzodiazepine (specifically triazolam, which is more commonly known as Halcion) or a placebo.
“Benzodiazepines stimulate the widespread brain receptor GABA-A, which makes us sleepy but also suppresses off-target brain areas — including the ‘gatekeeper’ that decides which sensory inputs to process,” Kuwaki of Kagoshima University says.
The hope for these DORA-22 pills is that the brain would still stay alert for danger signals while sleeping.
DORA-22 and triazolam each had similar effects with making the transition to sleep. DORA-22 did much better when those threats were introduced. Those mice woke up as quickly as the placebo mice after the danger.
And even better, the subjects on DORA-22 were able to fall back asleep just as quickly.
If this treatment pans out, it could become very popular. Studies show that more than 60 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders. According to the Market Research blog, the prescription insomnia drug market is $1.4 billion in the U.S., with non-prescription sleeping pills valued at $576 million (and growing).
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