Posts tagged with insomnia
May 27, 2012 by Cara Flanagan.
Henry Nicholls is a science writer and narcoleptic, a condition characterised by a frequent and overwhelming need to sleep. The current thinking is that narcolepsy develops in genetically vulnerable individuals when the immune system mishandles an infection.The outcome is an autoimmune attack on a region of the hypothalamus that produces the hormone orexin (aka hypocretin). Orexins are the ‘stay awake’ hormone, in other words they carry a message around the brain ‘stay awake’. In their absence the brain goes to sleep. So what Henry, and other narcoleptics, need is an orexin substitute.
So are drug companies researching this? No, they are trying to find ways of blocking the production of orexin rather than trying to find ways to produce it. Why? Because insomnia is a much bigger problem for people than narcolepsy (there are about 150 times more insomniacs than narcoleptics). In many cases insomnia might be due to an overactive orexin system. The drug company Merck are trialling a drug called Suvorexant which is due to be released in the US later this year. Narcoleptics are going to have to wait.
Henry’s article was published in the New Scientist (24 March 2012) but you can read it here. You can also read Henry’s blog here.
September 14, 2010 by Evie Bentley.
Insomnia and anxiety disorders are very different problems, each making normal, everyday life difficult, and drug therapy can usually help with both of these conditions.
However, a word of caution is now being given about such therapy as a meta-analysis of over 12 years’ Canadian data suggests that the costs of such treatment might outweigh the benefits. The issue is that these treatments seem to be associated with a significant increase in mortality rate from 10.5% to 15.7%. This is still a low risk of dying, but it does represent an increase if using the medication of about 36% compared to not using medication when other variables are factored in. The data came from more than 14.000 adults between the ages of 18 and 102, and extraneous or confounding variables such as smoking, alcohol use, general health and physical activity were controlled for.
Why is there such an increased risk of dying when using these drug therapies? It is known that sleeping pills and anti- Read the rest of this entry »