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Sedative-Hypnotic Drug

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What is Sedative Hypnotic Drug?

The name Sedative hypnotic drugs are deriving the meaning of it, sedative meaning induces calm. While the Hypnotic effect refers to induce sleep. The sedative hypnotic drug is the chemical substance used for reducing tension, anxiety and to induce calm or to induce sleep. Usually, such drugs at low dosage induce the calming effect, while consuming in large dosage it induces a sleeping effect. Sedative hypnotics will depress the central nervous system. These processes can even be archived by using other drugs. But only sedatives and hypnotics have the selective ability to achieve the process without affecting the mood or reducing the sensitivity of pain. 

Origin of Sedative Hypnotic Drugs 

In the olden day, alcohol and opium were only used as drugs for sedatives and hypnotics. In the 1800s the first alternative for sedative hypnotics has come to market in the form of liquid as bromide salt solution. In 1869, the chloral hydrate is derived from ethyl alcohol, which was used as a synthetic sedative hypnotic drugs. In the 1880s Paraldehyde was introduces into clinical medicine. And it was followed in 1903, by the synthesis of barbital. In 1912, the phenobarbital starts availing in the market and used for the next twenty years. From the mid of 20th century, two new types of sedatives and hypnotics came into use, they are benzodiazepines and Barbiturates. The benzodiazepines are also called minor tranquilizers. In the 20th century, Barbiturates are wide as sleeping pills for the entire first half of the 20th century. These medicines are also used as voluntary inhibition during psychiatric examinations. 

Phenobarbital, amobarbital, secobarbital, and pentobarbital are the most commonly prescribed drugs.  While intaking these drugs in high dosage are capable of creating deep unconsciousness. So, this was used as general anaesthetics. However, the overdosing of sedative hypnotic drugs side effects the complete central nervous and respiratory systems may lead to coma, respiratory failure, and death. In the 1950s, benzodiazepines were developed and banned the use of Barbiturates.  The benzodiazepines are more effective in relieving anxiety for inducing sleep. The benzodiazepines contain, diazepam, alprazolam, chlordiazepoxide, oxazepam and triazolam.  Even while intaking the high dosage of benzodiazepines reduces the causes of risk and lesser the depression of the central nervous system. The benzodiazepines are also can create their effect within the brain by creating the actions of the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid, which results to inhibit anxiety.

Sedative Hypnotics Classification 

Based on its performance, sedative drugs and hypnotic drugs are classified. 

Classification of Sedative Drugs 

Sedative medications are mainly classified into three types. 


These drugs can be taken on their own or can take along with anaesthesia. This can be used to medicate seizure disorder. Eg: Nembutal and phenobarbital


These drugs are mainly used for treating seizures, muscular spasms, and anxiety. Eg: Librium (chlordiazepoxide), Xanax (alprazolam), Ativan (lorazepam), Valium (diazepam), Halcion (triazolam), Serax (oxazepam), and Klonopin (clonazepam). Rohypnol is 10 times stronger than Valium. So, it is used as date rape. 

Z-Drug Sleep Medications 

These drugs are mainly used as the receptor in the central nervous system called BZ1, which helps as sleeping assistance. Anyhow, psychologists do not allow the patients to intake this medicine for a long period. For eg. Lunesta (eszopiclone), Ambien (zolpidem), and Sonata (zaleplon). 

Classification of Hypnotic Drugs 

Hypnotic drugs are also known as soporific drugs. They are used as the medication to treat sleeping illness, insomnia, and also as surgical anaesthesia. Hypnotic drugs are widely classified as Benzodiazepine (BZ)  and Non-Benzodiazepine (BZ). They are further widely classified as  

  1. Ultra rapidly elimination hypnotics

  2. Rapidly elimination hypnotics

  3. Relatively slow elimination hypnotics 

  4. Slow elimination hypnotics


What is the Difference Between Sedative and Hypnotic? 

  1. While comparing to the hypnotic, the sedative drugs will act as better analgesia or pain relief.

  2. The Sedative drugs will produce a relaxing and calming effect. So, it can be preferred to intake during the daytime. Hypnotic drugs make patients fall asleep. So, it is can be preferred to take during nighttime. 

Sedative Hypnotic Drugs Side Effects

The regular intake of sedative Hypnotic drugs may raise tolerance in the human body and create side effects as listed below. 

  1. Dizziness, drowsiness, and confusion.

  2. Feeling depressed and anxiety. 

  3. Inappropriate behaviour and Mood swing. 

  4. Risk of addiction.

  5. Breathing difficulties.

  6. Trouble on thinking and focusing.

  7. Frequent memory loss.

  8. Liver failure or damage of tissues. 

  9. Addicted to drugs. 

  10.  Feel Nervous and loss of appetite. 

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FAQs on Sedative-Hypnotic Drug

1. What is Sedation? How Long Does a Sedative Last?

Ans: Sedative drugs slow down brain activities. It communicates with the central nervous system and makes the body feel relaxed and induces sleep. This treat as the best medicine to treat sleeping disorders. The sedatives are mostly used as anaesthesia. The anaesthesia will last for four to six hours and some can feel dizziness and tingle up to 24 hours. It is also safe to chew or eat food after a few hours of anaesthesia. Ketamine, a kind of sedative drug was proved as the fastest-acting drug, with a median time to sedation of 3 minutes. Haloperidol alone provides sedation in 8 minutes, Benzodiazepines provide sedation in 10 minutes. All other combinations of sedation will occur for 17.5 minutes 

2. What is an Example of a Hypnotic Drug?

Ans: Hypnotics are also known as soporific drugs. Hypnotics are mainly used for treating insomnia. Insomnia is mainly characterized by difficulties with falling asleep or maintaining sleep. Inadequate sleep will affect the mood, energy levels, health, and work performance of the human body.  Specific hypnotics drugs like Intermezzo (zolpidem tartrate) can be used for insomnia. Other hypnotic drugs are zopiclone (Imovane, Zimovane), eszopiclone (Lunesta), zaleplon (Sonata), and zolpidem (Ambien, Stilnox, Stilnoct).

3. What are Sedative Drugs?

Ans: Sedatives are prescription medication and usually in the form of pills or liquid. It slows down brain activity and helps to treat anxiety and sleep disorders. It is usually prescribed to make people feel relaxed. Sedatives are also used as general anesthetics. Common sedatives include barbiturates, benzodiazepines, gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB), opioids, and sleep-inducing drugs such as zolpidem (Ambien) and eszopiclone (Lunesta). Sedatives are central nervous system depressants and vary widely in their potency. Learn about occupational disease topic of Biology in details explained by subject experts on Register free for online tutoring session to clear your doubts.

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