A sleepless night or two can leave you so tired and miserable that it can be tempting to take a medication that promises to help you slip into slumber. But the truth is that sleeping pills like Ambien and Lunesta don’t actually improve your sleep much, according to a Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs analysis, and the newest insomnia medication, Belsomra (suvorexant), is no exception.
It might help you nod off a few minutes faster or stay asleep slightly longer. But that small benefit comes with some big safety concerns, such as being too drowsy to drive the next day or feeling like you can’t move or talk.
We were prompted to take a close look at Belsomra, which is made by Merck, because it’s a new type of sleeping pill called an orexin-receptor antagonist. It acts on the brain in a different way compared to older insomnia meds. The Food and Drug Administration initially rejected high doses of Belsomra—30 mg and 40 mg—because it said they posed a dangerous risk of next-day drowsiness that could lead to deadly auto crashes.
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