Current, emerging, and newly available insomnia medications

J Clin Psychiatry. 2015 Aug;76(8):e1045. doi: 10.4088/JCP.14046tx2c.


Research into the sleep-wake cycle has provided new treatment targets for patients with insomnia as well as a better understanding of how medications affect sleep processes. Current insomnia medications, including benzodiazepines and nonbenzodiazepines, focus on enhancing sleep-promoting systems through broad antagonism of GABA. Other medications that promote sleep by blocking wake-promoting systems include antidepressants, antipsychotics, and antihistamines, but adverse effects and nonspecific therapeutic effects limit their use. New and emerging insomnia medications are focusing on blocking wake-promoting systems via more selective antagonism of orexin, serotonin, and norepinephrine. These medications may offer improved efficacy with fewer adverse effects.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Sleep / drug effects*
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Wakefulness / drug effects*