Lunesta can help students siesta

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    By Megan Treseder

    BYU students will soon have a new drug to help them sleep through those restless nights during mid-terms week.

    In December, the Food and Drug Administration approved Lunesta, a sleeping aid that assists people with insomnia. Lunesta is for people with insomnia who need a more long-term solution older drugs did not provide, according to a press release by Sepracor, the manufacturer of Lunesta.

    Kathleen McCann, communications director for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine is excited about the introduction of Lunesta.

    ?Basically, the treatments for insomnia are going to expand and improve, and it?s always nice to have drugs that are approved by the FDA that can provide treatment for insomnia,? McCann said.

    She said people who suffer from insomnia typically have problems with depression or stress, or they consume too much caffeine. For short-term sufferers of insomnia, doctors usually recommend behavioral or lifestyle changes. If the suffering is long-term, doctors prescribe drugs for their patients, McCann said.

    Insomnia seems to affect women more than men due to several reasons, said Dr. Rafael Pelayo, of Stanford Sleep Disorders Clinic. Women have trouble sleeping during the last weeks of their pregnancy, and then they must wake up often to feed their babies. Women also suffer from insomnia more during their menstrual cycles and menopause.

    College-age students are especially susceptible to insomnia and problems sleeping through the night, Pelayo said.

    ?Sleep is sometimes an inconvenience to young people, so they want to function on as little sleep as possible, so they get used to functioning on little sleep,? Pelayo said. ?Also the college lifestyle allows people to not sleep well because they stay up very late hours, and they have very flexible lifestyles.?

    He said students do not establish regular sleeping patterns and do not have a set time where they fall asleep and wake up, which can lead to insomnia.

    These sleeping problems should not be ignored, Pelayo said.

    ?They will tend to get worse over time if they don?t get help directly, but they will improve if they speak to a doctor who specializes in sleep disorders,? Pelayo said.

    He said he uses a combination of behavioral changes and medication to help people fall asleep and sleep through the night.

    ?But our ultimate goal is to always sleep without medication so they wake up and feel refreshed,? Pelayo said.

    He said several important breakthroughs in sleeping medications will happen in the next year.

    ?2005 is an interesting year; perhaps two or three sleeping medications will be released this year because people realize this is an under-served population,? Pelayo said.

    According to Sepracor, Lunesta will be released to the public soon.

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