Objective: Sedative hypnotics are used by athletes to alleviate precompetition anxiety and insomnia. The effects of these agents on exercise tolerance have not been extensively researched.
Design: To determine the effects of sedative hypnotics on psychomotor and physical performance, a double-blind, placebo- (P) controlled, cross-over designed trial investigated the effects of zopiclone (Z) and loprazolam (L) on performance in 12 athletes.
Intervention: Subjects ingested either P, Z (7.5 mg), or L (2 mg) on three different occasions separated by a 1-week washout period. Eye-hand coordination tests, a 30-m sprint test, an agility test, and a graded treadmill run to exhaustion for determination of VO2max were performed 10 hours after drug administration.
Results: Subjects reported a significantly greater hangover effect following ingestion of L (8/11 subjects) compared with ingestion of Z (3/11 subjects; p < 0.01). A greater number of subjects felt alert after ingestion of P (9/11 subjects) and Z (9/11 subjects) compared with L (4/11 subjects; p < 0.01). The results of the eye-hand coordination tests, the 30-m sprint, the T-test, the VO2max, and the time to exhaustion during the treadmill run were not significantly altered following the ingestion of P, Z, and L. There was a significant difference between the delta values for Z and L for the number of missed responses in the eye-hand coordination tests (p < 0.02). Therefore, following the ingestion of L, subjects experienced a significant hangover effect and altered reaction time, whereas the ingestion of Z did not significantly impair either psychomotor or physical performance in the administered tests.
Clinical relevance: Investigate the extent of the effects of sedative hypnotics on exercise performances, enabling team physicians to prescribe such drugs to the athlete more effectively.