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Zaleplon for Insomnia

Zaleplon is sold commercially under the name Sonata and has been marketed for years and used widely. It is better at treating sleep-onset insomnia than sleep maintenance insomnia.

Like Zolipdem, it acts at the benzodiazepine recognition site of GABA(A) receptors. It’s one of the so-called nonbenzodiazepine hypnotics (z-drugs) and specifically it is a pyrazolopyrimidine.

Side effects that people often feel, especially when they start the medicine, include lightheadedness, difficulty keeping balance, and a feeling of being drugged up. More worrying side effects include rash, itching, and in a small minority of patients chest pain, shortness of breath, and blurred vision. Contact your doctor if you have any of these side effects. Alcohol is thought to make the side effects worse. You should mention to your doctor if you have a history of heavy drinking. Pregnant and nursing women are not prescribed this drug.

Short term memory loss is also a problem for some patients. Significant events that happen even the day after you take the drug can be forgotten.

There is a risk of dependency, so make sure to use this drug only as prescribed by a physician. Don’t be surprised if you experience rebound insomnia after quitting this medicine. This response is very common and you and your doctor go into it knowing it might happen. The thinking is usually that the short-term insomnia relief is worth the rebound insomnia and may help you get back on track for the long run.

The FDA has labeled zaleplon for short-term use. There are reasons for this including the risk of dependency and addiction. Your doctor can override this recommendation and have you take it for a longer period, but that is a considered medical decision made by him or her given your overall condition. DO NOT USE THIS DRUG OUTSIDE DOCTOR’S ORDERS.

N-[3-(3-cyanopyrazolo[1,5-a]pyrimidin-7-yl)phenyl]-N-ethylacetamide. The chemical formula is C17H15N5O,

A French study found it worked on people at high altitude (3,613 meters) without debilitating side effects.

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