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Insomnia Treatment Option: Rozerem

Prescription Medication Works at Melatonin Receptors

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Updated February 10, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Insomnia Treatment Option: Rozerem

Talk to your healthcare provider about insomnia treatments.

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If you have insomnia and are looking for an alternative prescription medication that works on the body’s natural sleep hormone called melatonin, you may be interested in learning about Rozerem. How is Rozerem different from other sleeping pills? What are some of the common side effects of using Rozerem?

To answer these questions, let’s review an excerpt from UpToDate -- a trusted electronic medical reference used by health care providers and patients alike. Then, read on for additional information about what all of this means for you.

"Ramelteon (Rozerem) is a prescription medicine approved for insomnia that works in a different brain system from the other sedative-hypnotic medications. Its benefit is greatest for people who have difficulty falling asleep. It is unlikely to cause morning sleepiness or to be habit-forming.

"The most common side effects of ramelteon are headache, sleepiness, and sore throat, although these problems occur in fewer than 1 percent of patients. You should not take ramelteon if you have liver disease or take fluvoxamine (Luvox). Ramelteon is available in the United States, but not in Europe."

There are numerous prescription sleeping pills available for the treatment of difficulties falling or staying asleep, symptoms characteristic of insomnia. In general, any medicine that causes drowsiness or induces sleep is described as being a sedative or hypnotic medication. Many of these sleeping pills work on the chemical messengers in the brain called neurotransmitters. Rozerem is unique because it acts on the hormone called melatonin.

Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone that has a role in maintaining the natural patterns of sleep and wakefulness. This pattern is one of the many circadian rhythms in the body, functions that follow a nearly 24-hour cycle. When this becomes disrupted, it may result in circadian rhythm sleep disorders. Melatonin is an effective treatment in these cases.

How does Rozerem work? It is rather unique, in fact. Rozerem binds to the surface receptors in brain cells that are typically acted upon by melatonin. As a result, it enhances the effects at these receptors and helps to induce sleep. Fortunately, it does not have many of the side effects common to other sleeping pills such as causing a morning "hang-over" effect or leading to addiction or dependence.

As mentioned above, there are some other side effects and certain people should not use Rozerem. After you have reviewed the side effect profile of Rozerem, you may consider discussing its use with your doctor. For those seeking an alternative sleeping pill, it might be the right choice to help you fall asleep easier.

Want to learn more? See UpToDate's topic, "Insomnia treatments," for additional in-depth medical information.

Source:

Bonnet, Michael et al. "Insomnia treatments." UpToDate. Accessed: October 2011.

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