Although different forms of pharmacological intervention are often prescribed for insomnia disorder, the comparative efficacies among various drugs remain unclear. We therefore conducted this study to quantitatively compare the efficacy of various pharmacotherapies for insomnia by modeling.
We searched PubMed, EMBASE and Cochrane Library databases for randomized placebo-controlled trials of insomnia medications that were conducted within a designated time period (from the inception dates to May 16, 2019). Pharmacodynamic models were established to describe the time course of changes from baseline in selected sleep parameters. Sleep quality and dropout rates were also compared by a single-arm meta-analysis.
In sum, 43 studies covering 44 trials (14,535 patients) were included in the analysis. The drugs evaluated included flurazepam, quazepam, temazepam, triazolam, eszopiclone, zaleplon, zolpidem, extended-release zolpidem, suvorexant, ramelteon and doxepin. The established models revealed eszopiclone had the highest efficacy in terms of sleep latency (SL), total sleep time (TST), and sleep quality, and was also associated with the lowest dropout rates. The effect of suvorexant on the parameter ‘wake after sleep onset’ (WASO) was significantly higher than that of the other drugs analyzed.
Each drug has its own characteristics in the treatment of insomnia, and this needs to be taken into consideration to meet individual clinical needs. These results serve as a quantitative supplement for clinical practice by reflecting the difference in efficacy of various drugs in the treatment of insomnia.

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