Chapter 51. Medications Used for Sleep

Kyle P. Johnson, M.D.; Anna Ivanenko, M.D., Ph.D.
DOI: 10.1176/appi.books.9781585623921.475212



Prescription and nonprescription medications are being used for sleep problems by child psychiatrists and pediatricians at increasing rates, despite there being no U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)–approved drugs for pediatric insomnia. We are beginning to see, only recently, published research on pharmacotherapy for pediatric sleep disorders. This chapter will summarize the use of medications for sleep disorders in children and adolescents. A recent survey of child and adolescent psychiatrists reveals that prescription or nonprescription medications are frequently used to manage insomnia in the following disorders: primary insomnia, depression, bipolar affective disorder, anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder, delayed sleep phase syndrome, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorder, chronic pain, oppositional disorder, and mental retardation/developmental delay (Rosen et al. 2005). More than 75% of primary care pediatricians surveyed recommended nonprescription medications for pediatric insomnia and greater than 50% had prescribed a medication specifically for sleep (Owens et al. 2003). Clinical situations in which medications were most commonly used were acute pain and travel, closely followed by children with special needs such as mental retardation, autism, and ADHD.

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Table Reference Number
TABLE 51–1. Pharmacological characteristics of benzodiazepines
Table Reference Number
TABLE 51–2. Nonbenzodiazepine benzodiazepine receptor agonists


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Which of the following neurotransmitters is responsible for the regulation of sleep?
Medications exert their sedative effect through different mechanisms, affecting different receptors. All of the following medications are correctly paired with their receptors/mechanisms except
Which of the following statements regarding melatonin is false?
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