Possible Help for Troubled Sleepers

Reporter:  Shannon Samson

Web Producer:  Amber Griswold

It's believed one out of three adults suffers from insomina, the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep. But a new prescription drug may help the weary finally get the rest they need.
Insufficient sleep over a long period of time can lead to accelerated heart disease, an increased risk of stroke, obesity, poor work performance and increased traffic accidents.
Now, there's a drug on the market that can help you get some shut-eye and not just for a while, but indefinitely.
If you lie in bed awake at night, chances are counseling will help.  But, not always.
One out of five patients with insomnia doesn't benefit from psychotherapy and may need sleeping pills.  Until now, the drugs that were on the market were only approved for short term use.
Mark Goetting. M.D., Sleep Specialist, described the new drug, "Lunesta will have an indication or an approval from the Food and Drug Administration to take every night of the week indefinitely."
But, he says the new drug from Sepracor will also have short term applications, such as helping hospital patients or hotel guests fall asleep in unfamiliar surroundings.
A similar version of the drug has been available in Europe for several years and has been shown to have few side effects.  Lunesta is not addictive and patients won't require larger and larger doses over time.
Still, Dr. Goetting says many patients will be leery about using it because of what he considers to be a misperception of sleeping pills, resentment leftover from the 1960s and 70s.
Dr. Goetting said, "Because of things like Marilyn Monroe's overdose, Judy Garland, Jimi Hendrix. So there's a fear that sleeping pills are mixed in with the drug culture with uppers in the morning, downers at night and people who get in this cycle spin out of control and die and there is some truth to the older medications, but the newer medications have not been on that track at all."
He's hoping the stigma attached to sleeping pills will fade, so patients won't be afraid to ask for a little help in the bedroom.
Some of the side effects associated with Lunesta and other drugs in this class are forgetfulness or grogginess when taking the medicine, which can cause problems if someone calls you in the middle of the night or you need to get up and use the bathroom.
Also, these drugs can cause sleepwalking. 
But most patients will have no problems at all.
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