Drug-induced sleep: Theoretical and practical considerations

Jeffrey M. Ellenbogen, Edward F. Pace-Schott

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Faithful replication of normal sleep through medications-can it be achieved? Departure from normal sleep with the use of drugs-when is it desired? Answers to these questions depend on accurate understanding of sleep and on concrete criteria upon which to define it. Since these elements are evolving sciences, as yet incompletely known, one might take a nihilistic approach that we simply cannot judge whether we have successfully replicated sleep, since we do not fully grasp what sleep is or what it does. To address these potential obstacles, our article is written in two sections. The first addresses theoretical considerations for how medications might be seen in the larger framework of sleep. The purpose of this section is to inform readers about key issues in evaluating whether a drug has sufficient data to persuasively argue it is re-creating sleep. (We hope that researchers interested in conducting studies, or critical readers of the drug-study literature, might find this section particularly useful.) The second section of this article approaches exemplary, current concepts of pharmacologic manipulation of sleep, organized by disorders as articulated by the International Classification of Sleep Disorders (2005). This second section will combine practical knowledge of clinical sleep medicine, with emphasis on contemporary knowledge about molecular mechanisms that are felt to underlie some of these phenomena. We recognize that our collective knowledge about sleep will advance in the coming years. We hope that this article serves to facilitate that advance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)177-186
Number of pages10
JournalPflugers Archiv European Journal of Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2012


  • Pharmacology
  • Receptor
  • Sleep
  • Sleep apnea
  • Sleep disorders
  • Sleep-inducing drug
  • Slow-wave sleep

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Physiology (medical)


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