Q. I take zolpidem for insomnia. It helps me fall asleep but not stay asleep, and it gives me a dry mouth.
My doctor suggested I try melatonin instead to prolong the time I stay asleep. Does that sound reasonable?
A. The studies on melatonin are mixed. A recent double-blind French study found no benefit (BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, June 22, 2010). It appears to be more useful for jet lag (Current Treatment Options in Neurology, Sept., 2010).
We are sending you our Guide to Getting a Good Night’s Sleep for more information on using melatonin, magnesium and light against insomnia, as well as details on drugs like zolpidem, Sonata and Rozerem.
The FDA recently approved an old drug, doxepin, in a new low-dose long-acting formulation to help people stay asleep. Initial reports are favorable (Expert Opinion on Pharmacotherapeutics, July 2009). You and your doctor may wish to discuss this option, brand-named Silenor, but be forewarned: the drug may be expensive.