All of the benzodiazepines will produce sedative-hypnotic effects of sufficient magnitude to induce sleep, provided that the dose is high enough. However, the aim in the treatment of sleep disorders is to induce sleep that is as close as possible to natural sleep so that the patient falls asleep quickly, sleeps through the night, and has sleep of sufficient quality to awake refreshed.
Extensive sleep studies have been conducted with a variety of sedative-hypnotic drugs, and all of these drugs appear to alter the normal distribution of rapid eye movement (REM) and non-REM sleep. Most of the older sedative-hypnotic agents markedly depress REM sleep. In contrast, when the benzodiazepines are used in appropriate doses, they depress REM sleep to a much smaller extent. As with treatment of anxiety, the choice
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