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ISRN Pharmacology
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 914168, 14 pages
Review Article

Clinical Pharmacology in Sleep Medicine

Sleep Division, Neurology Department, Massachusetts General Hospital, Wang 720, Boston, MA 02114, USA

Received 30 April 2012; Accepted 7 June 2012

Academic Editors: T. Kumai, M. van den Buuse, and R. Villalobos-Molina

Copyright © 2012 Ashley Proctor and Matt T. Bianchi. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The basic treatment goals of pharmacological therapies in sleep medicine are to improve waking function by either improving sleep or by increasing energy during wakefulness. Stimulants to improve waking function include amphetamine derivatives, modafinil, and caffeine. Sleep aids encompass several classes, from benzodiazepine hypnotics to over-the-counter antihistamines. Other medications used in sleep medicine include those initially used in other disorders, such as epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, and psychiatric disorders. As these medications are prescribed or encountered by providers in diverse fields of medicine, it is important to recognize the distribution of adverse effects, drug interaction profiles, metabolism, and cytochrome substrate activity. In this paper, we review the pharmacological armamentarium in the field of sleep medicine to provide a framework for risk-benefit considerations in clinical practice.