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Study Opens Door to More Insomnia Research
Sleep experts say this study represents a landmark in insomnia
treatment studies."It was an important study mainly because of what they
did rather than what they did it with," says Daniel Buysse, MD, professor
of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. "The fact
that Estorra was the drug used, to me, wasn't nearly as important as the fact
that someone finally did a study of treating insomnia with a medication for six
months of continuous nightly use. I think that is a very important advance in
the treatment of insomnia."
Buysse, who also wrote an editorial that accompanies the study,
says it's likely that other insomnia drugs, such as Ambien and Sonata, if
tested over the long term might also continue to have effects similar to those
shown during short-term use.
Although this study resolves one major issue about the
long-term treatment of insomnia, Buysse says that it also raises several others
that will have to be addressed in future studies, such as whether or not daily
treatment is needed and whether long-term treatment of insomnia lowers other
Krystal agrees and says this is only the first study to look at
the issue of long-term treatment of insomnia in a large group of adults, and
many more questions remain.
"Now that we can treat people for a while," Krystal
tells WebMD, "we can then start asking the question what happens when we
stop it, do people still have disease, who are they, and how do we know who
should continue and who shouldn't?"