Experimental Drug for Insomnia

A new study shows an investigational compound called ramelteon can significantly reduce the time it takes older adults with insomnia to fall asleep. About 60 million Americans suffer from insomnia, and about half of older adults experience insomnia symptoms regularly. Researchers from the Sleep Disorders and Research Center in Detroit randomized 829 seniors between ages 64 and 93 in a five-week study. Participants either received four milligrams of ramelteon, eight milligrams of the drug, or a placebo. Participants completed questionnaires every day about how they slept.

Analysis showed those who received ramelteon estimated falling asleep much more quickly than those on placebo. Additionally, patients did not have rebound insomnia, nor did they exhibit withdrawal symptoms after going off the drug. Researchers say, “Improving sleep in older adults is a very important health issue. Far too often, older adults and their physicians accept the myth that poor sleep is a fact of life — that it comes with aging.” They conclude, “We are extremely pleased with the results of this study. We think the data are particularly exciting and may add to the potential for ramelteon to provide another option for older adults living with insomnia.”

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