Purpose of review: Insomnia and hypersomnia are conditions with multifactorial causes that can be difficult to treat. There have been recent developments and changes in the treatment of both conditions, including the addition of some agents that have a novel mechanism of action. This review summarizes recent changes and highlights pertinent updates.
Recent findings: Benzodiazepine receptor agonists received a warning in 2019 regarding the possibility of complex sleep behaviors, such as sleepwalking. Zolpidem has been marketed in new dosage forms that include sublingual tablets and oral spray formulations. Orexin receptor antagonists appear to be well tolerated with a good safety profile. Suvorexant received an approval for the treatment of patients with comorbid insomnia and dementia. Lemborexant was demonstrated to be effective for maintenance insomnia. Trazodone was shown to affect the oligomerization of tau proteins thus suggesting potential implications in attenuating dementia pathology. Pitolisant, a novel histamine-3 receptor antagonist/inverse agonist, gained approval for the treatment of excessive daytime sleepiness in adults with narcolepsy as well as obstructive sleep apnea. Solriamfetol, a new norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitor, was approved for hypersomnolence based on good efficacy, but with cardiovascular warnings.
Summary: Recent advancements in the treatment of insomnia includes agents with novel mechanisms, new indications, and new dosage forms. Risk of complex sleep behaviors, and possible next-day driving impairment, should be discussed for all agents used for insomnia, including orexin receptor antagonists. Novel agents also are available for hypersomnia and there are options beyond traditional stimulants that may have great utility.