New Sleeping Tablet!

Do you frequently receive inadequate sleep? Have you thought about using a sleeping tablet to overcome this?


Most commonly prescribed sleeping tablets affect your quality of sleep! But a new sleeping tablet, called Belsomra, has made its way to the market and it does not affect your sleep in the same way.

I elaborated on how most commonly prescribed drugs, like benzodiazepines and z-drugs (there are lots of different types, so feel free to ask what yours is if you are interested), affect your sleep in my last post. If you would like to read more click here.


Unlike most commonly prescribed sleeping tablets, Belsomra actually increases REM sleep, which is the stage of sleep where we experience our most vivid dreams. It is thought to be most important for regulating emotion and complex thinking. But how does it work?


Have you ever heard of narcolepsy? Well, Belsomra gives you narcolepsy for a night.


Narcolepsy is a disorder where people are overcome by extreme tiredness. Extreme emotions will make narcoleptics lose all control of their muscles, like what happens when we are in REM sleep, and they will quite literally fall (to the ground) asleep.

This video does a really great job at explaining what it is like.


Some dogs also have narcolepsy. I have added this youtube video of a narcoleptic dog overcome by extreme excitement. Given that extreme emotions make narcoleptics fall asleep, I bet you can guess what happens to this dog…

So, what is happening with narcoleptic people and dogs?


Our brains are continuously producing a lot of chemicals that help to keep us awake and make us fall asleep. Orexin is a chemical that our brains produce a lot of when we are awake, and stop producing it, when we go to sleep.


Narcoleptic people don’t produce this chemical called orexin very much. No one really knows why, but it is thought that the immune system attacks and kills the region of the brain that produces it. That is why they find it so hard to stay awake!


Dogs on the other hand still produce orexin, but orexin needs to attach itself to another molecule for it to work. Narcoleptic dogs, have something wrong with this molecule that orexin attaches to, so it doesn’t work anymore.


This new sleeping tablet works by blocking the action of orexin in our brains, which basically gives you narcolepsy.


But isn’t that bad?? Well if only gives you narcolepsy for a night, then it helps you to go to sleep, allowing you to feel refreshed the next day. However, the FDA does recommend only taking the tablet after you go to bed, to make sure you don’t hurt yourself on the way.


Unfortunately, this sleeping tablet stays in your body for a little longer than a normal night sleep, which can affect your concentration early in the morning. The FDA don’t recommend driving early in the morning if you take the tablet on the previous night. 



Image via Flickr

But what I think is cool about this sleeping tablet, is that it changes your sleep so differently to other sleeping tablets.


While other sleeping tablets reduce your REM sleep, this sleeping tablet actually increases it. You would know from my last post that REM sleep is really important for regulating emotion and learning complex tasks.


It was only released in Australia in November last year, so there is not much known about what happens if we increase REM sleep. But given that REM sleep is thought to be important for regulating emotion and complex thinking, maybe it could be help people in these areas.


I’m excited to see how it goes!

2 Responses to “New Sleeping Tablet!”

  1. mbrian says:

    Thanks Claudia 🙂 Narcolepsy is a really interesting disease. In its worst form is treated by dexamphetamine (which is a basically speed on prescription).

    I worry that people may use this drug to get cheap/government subsidised dexamphetamines. They usually get access if they can prove in a test they are sleepy during the day. They are not tested for drugs prior to or after the test, and it could be easily used.

  2. Claudia says:

    It’s really cool how a new type of sleeping tablet has been developed that changes the way it makes you fall asleep, and is somewhat beneficial to the user. Through reading this article, I’ve also become aware of narcolepsy, which I’ve never heard of it before. Thank you for sharing!