Suvorexant for Insomnia

Last updated: March 28, 2019

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Insomnia is one of the three major classifications of sleeping disorders. It is the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep, both of which have effects that can affect a person’s daily life. It is a common sleeping problem in which a person regularly feels tired with the worry of not having enough sleep.

Insomnia leads to daytime sleepiness, lack of energy and enthusiasm. It is the feeling of not being well, both mentally and physically. While most people consider insomnia as an acute disorder, this can lead to chronic insomnia. This has been associated with higher risks of developing more serious diseases, if not monitored.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, 30-40 percent of American adults developed insomnia each year. 10-15 percent of these adults claim to have developed chronic insomnia. Effective treatment of insomnia requires proper monitoring and medication. One of the known hypnotics that can manage insomnia is Suvorexant.

What is Suvorexant?

Suvorexant, commercially known as Belsomra, is a sedative-hypnotic. It is known to effectively treat chronic to primary insomnia. This medication is capable of putting a person to a sound and longer sleep by targeting the orexin system. This system has an important role in sleep regulation and state of arousal.

Suvorexant was approved by the US Food and Drug Association in 2014. It is the first dual orexin receptor antagonist (DORA)  to counter insomnia. Although being younger than a few other sedatives, Suvorexant has shown beneficial effects. It has been claimed to be well tolerated by people suffering from insomnia.

Suvorexant has been tested in several clinical trials that showed no serious adverse reactions. The most common complaint people experience from taking this drug is headache and sleepiness. Quite frankly, the second one is the goal of this medicine.

Just recently, a two-part clinical trial was conducted involving 2,000 adults, which lasted for three months. In the first clinical trial, one-half of the participants were asked to take Suvorexant, in their rightful dose. The other half, on the other hand, had a placebo. The second clinical trial had the same process, but with different participants.

In both studies, people who had their dose of Suvorexant fell asleep much faster than the participants who had a placebo. People on Suvorexant slept at an average of 60.3 minutes longer, while those on placebo dozed off 40.3 minutes longer, both of which has a difference of 19 minutes. The results then claims that Suvorexant is a potent drug alternative for insomnia.

Keep in mind that sleep deprivation is not a sleeping disorder. It only means that a person has not been getting enough sleep. This differs a lot from insomnia symptoms. For this reason, never take Suvorexant when not prescribed to do so.

Although very well effective, Suvorexant only caters short term treatment. Contact your licensed physician if symptoms persist after 7-10 days.

How does it work?

Orexin is a classification of the neuropeptide. It is also commonly known as hypocretin. This neuropeptide acts by stimulating the arousal state of a person, therefore generating wakefulness. The orexin system is located predominantly in the hypothalamus and perifornical area. It generally acts as a component in our system keeping us awake during the day.

When a person has too much activity in their orexin system, it leads to the worsening of your inability to sleep, whether it be primary insomnia to chronic insomnia.

This is where Suvorexant comes into play. Suvorexant is very capable of blocking orexins. It induces sleep by effectively blocking orexin-mediated wakefulness. By decreasing orexins, a person has more chances of getting a good night rest.

Benzodiazepines receptor antagonists (BzRAs) target the body’s central nervous system. Severe side effects are also associated with this component. Unlike BzRAs, Suvorexant is a much more controlled sedative. This acts more naturally and selective in the orexin system. Because of its controlled nature, Suvorexant reduces the chances of high-risk side effects and substance abuse.

What should I avoid while taking Suvorexant?

Although Suvorexant is a selective sedative, this doesn’t mean you can take a dose whenever you want to. It should always be based upon your medical condition, what other medicines you’re taking and even your lifestyle.

Do not take a dose of this drug if you don’t plan to get a full 7-8 hours of sleep. Failure to do so will increase your chances of acquiring memory loss. It will also reduce your alertness upon doing any activity that requires focus, such as driving or operating any machinery.

Never try to increase your dose. Take it as your doctor prescribed you to do so. If you feel like the drug isn’t as effective as it should be, consult your doctor. Your condition will not get any better by self-medicating. Your chances of acquiring the side effects will also increase.

If you’ve had alcohol within the day, don’t take a dose. Also, don’t take Suvorexant in combination with other hypnotics drugs. Be sure to alert your physician firsthand about any drug you are currently taking.

Who should not take Suvorexant?

Suvorexant is not the ordinary sedative that you can easily buy over-the-counter. Suvorexant, just like Zolpidem, strictly requires a doctor’s prescription.

Children below 18 years are prohibited to take this drug. It hasn’t been proven in any way that Suvorexant is safe for children. Only adults can tolerate such high doses.

Older adults might be sensitive to the side effects of this drug. Common side effects for elderly people include confusion, excessive drowsiness, and unsteadiness. Be wary.

While it hasn’t been known if Suvorexant passes with breast milk, it is best for pregnant women to avoid this drug. Discuss this with your physician. Only take a dose when you’re instructed to do so.

Side effects

Common side effects of Suvorexant include:

  • Temporary leg weakness
  • Sleepiness
  • Memory loss
  • Mental and behavior changes
  • Mood swings
  • Confusion
  • Hallucination
  • Depression
  • Thoughts of suicide

Suvorexant was found out to induce the severity of a patient’s depression. Aside from that, it can be accompanied by the onset of suicidal thoughts. For this, it is best to consult a doctor before taking Suvorexant.

Look for the right symptoms before resorting to any sleep medications. Consult your physician on how to effectively manage your sleeping disorder and never self medicate.

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