Orexins have a role in sleep regulation, and orexin receptor antagonists are under development for the treatment of insomnia. We conducted a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, four-period crossover study to investigate the effect of single doses of the dual orexin receptor antagonist SB-649868 (10 or 30 mg) and a positive control zolpidem (10 mg), an allosteric modulator of GABA(A) receptors. Objective and subjective sleep parameters and next-day performance were assessed in 51 healthy male volunteers in a traffic noise model of situational insomnia. Compared with placebo, SB-649868 10 and 30 mg increased total sleep time (TST) by 17 and 31 min (p<0.001), whereas after zolpidem TST was increased by 11.0 min (p=0.012). Wake after sleep onset was reduced significantly by 14.7 min for the SB-6489698 30 mg dose (p<0.001). Latency to persistent sleep was significantly reduced after both doses of SB-6489698 (p=0.003), but not after zolpidem. Slow wave sleep (SWS) and electroencephalogram (EEG) power spectra in non-REM sleep were not affected by either dose of SB-640868, whereas SWS (p< 0.001) and low delta activity (<=1.0 Hz) were increased, and 2.25-11.0 Hz activity decreased after zolpidem. REM sleep duration was increased after SB-649868 30 mg (p=0.002) and reduced after zolpidem (p=0.049). Latency to REM sleep was reduced by 20.1 (p=0.034) and 34.0 min (p<0.001) after 10 and 30 mg of SB-649868. Sleep-onset REM episodes were observed. SB-649868 was well tolerated. This dual orexin receptor antagonist exerts hypnotic activity, with effects on sleep structure and the EEG that are different from those of zolpidem.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00440323.