List of Sedative-Hypnotic Drugs (Sleeping Pills)

Based on "Sleep Disorders Medicine"
written by Dr. Sudhansu Chokroverty, MD

Several different classes of medications are used to treat insomnia. This list includes both prescription and over-the-counter sedative-hypnotic medications.

Non-Benzodiazepine hypnotics (Z-Drugs)

Z-drugs are structurally unrelated to each other. These medications have largely replaced traditional benzodiazepines in the treatment of insomnia.

Generic Brand Name
Eszopiclone Lunesta
Zaleplon Sonata
Zolpidem Ambien, Intermezzo, Zolpimist
Zopiclone * Zimovane
* NOT approved in the US


Melatonin receptor agonists

Ramelteon is currently the only FDA-approved melatonin receptor agonist. Ramelteon is used for sleep onset insomnia and has little value for maintaining sleep.

Generic Brand Name
Ramelteon Rozerem

Orexin receptor antagonists

Orexin-receptor antagonists is a novel pharmacologic class of hypnotics. The first - and by far the only - member of this class was approved in 2014.

Generic Brand Name
Suvorexant Belsomra


Benzodiazepine hypnotics are used for the short-term treatment of insomnia. Benzodiazepines produce sedative, hypnotic, anxiolytic, and muscle relaxant effects.

Benzodiazepines shorten sleep latency and reduce the number of awakenings and the time spent in stage of wakefulness.

All benzodiazepines are controlled substances in schedule IV.

Generic Brand Name
Brotizolam * Lendormin
Estazolam Prosom
Flurazepam Dalmane
Loprazolam* Dormonoct, Havlane, Sonin, Somnovit
Lormetazepam* Loramet, Noctamid
Nitrazepam* Cerson, Mogadon, Nitrazadon, Radedorm
Quazepam Doral
Temazepam Restoril
Triazolam Halcion
* NOT approved in the US
Anxiolytics (not approved as hypnotics)
Alprazolam Xanax
Bromazepam Lexotan
Chlordiazepoxide Librium
Clorazepate dipotassium Tranxene, Gen-Xene
Clonazepam Klonopin
Diazepam Valium
Lorazepam Ativan
Midazolam Versed
Oxazepam Serax

Sedating antidepressants

Sedating antidepressants are widely used for insomnia, but are not officially licensed for this indication. Currently doxepin is the only antidepressant approved by the U.S. FDA for the treatment of insomnia.

Generic Brand Name
Amitriptyline* Elavil, Endep, Vanatrip
Doxepin Silenor, Sinequan, Adapin
Mirtazapine* Remeron
Trazodone* Desyrel, Oleptro, Trittico
* NOT FDA approved for insomnia


Currently barbiturates are not recommended for routine use for insomnia due to high incidence of tolerance and dependence.

Generic Brand Name
Amobarbital Amytal Sodium
Butabarbital Butisol
Pentobarbital Nembutal
Secobarbital Seconal Sodium

Other sedative-hypnotic agents

Generic/Class Brand Name
Chloral hydrate
(sedative, hypnotic)
Somnote, Noctec, Aquachloral
Dexmedetomidine Precedex, Dexdor, Dexdomitor
Ethchlorvynol Placidyl


Over-the-counter sleep aids

Most of the over-the-counter sleep aids contain sedating antihistamine (histamine type 1 receptor blocker).

Generic Brand Name
Diphenhydramine Benadryl
Doxylamine Unisom SleepTabs, Good Sense Sleep Aid

Dietary supplements, herbal products

Name Class
Melatonin hormone secreted by the pineal gland, available as dietary supplement
Kava herbal product
Passion flower herbal product
St. John's wort herbal product
Valerian herbal product

"Off-label" Sleep Aids

Generic Brand Name
Atypical antipsychotics
Olanzapine 5 Zyprexa
Quetiapine 6 Seroquel, Seroquel XR
Gabapentin7 Neurontin
Tiagabine8 Gabitril
Chlorpheniramine 3 Antagonate, Chlor-Trimeton, Kloromin, Phenetron, Pyridamal 100, Teldrin
Hydroxyzine and its combinations2 Vistaril, Atarax
Promethazine 3 Phenergan, Remsed
Trimeprazine 4 Temaril, Vallergan


  • 1. New FDA Approved Drugs CenterWatch
  • 2. Spahr L, Coeytaux A, Giostra E, Hadengue A, Annoni JM. Histamine H1 blocker hydroxyzine improves sleep in patients with cirrhosis and minimal hepatic encephalopathy: a randomized controlled pilot trial. Am J Gastroenterol. 2007 Apr;102(4):744-53. PubMed
  • 3. Saitou K, Kaneko Y, Sugimoto Y, Chen Z, Kamei C. Slow wave sleep-inducing effects of first generation H1-antagonists. Biol Pharm Bull. 1999 Oct;22(10):1079-82. PubMed
  • 4. Mohammadi R, Gaudoneix-Taieb M, Armand-Branger S, Beauverie P, Poisson N. Value of trimeprazine among hypnotics in a psychiatric facility. Encephale. 2000 Sep-Oct;26(5):75-80. PubMed
  • 5. Khazaie H, Rezaie L, Darvishi F, Najafi F, Avis K. Treatment of paradoxical insomnia with atypical antipsychotic drugs. Neurosciences (Riyadh). 2013 Jan;18(1):64-9. PubMed
  • 6. Anderson SL, Vande Griend JP. Quetiapine for insomnia: A review of the literature. Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2014 Mar 1;71(5):394-402. PubMed
  • 7. Lo HS, Yang CM, Lo HG, Lee CY, Ting H, Tzang BS. Treatment effects of gabapentin for primary insomnia. Clin Neuropharmacol. 2010 Mar-Apr;33(2):84-90. PubMed
  • 8. Walsh JK, Zammit G, Schweitzer PK, Ondrasik J, Roth T. Tiagabine enhances slow wave sleep and sleep maintenance in primary insomnia. Sleep Med. 2006 Mar;7(2):155-61. PubMed

Created: December, 2015
Last reviewed: February 18, 2019


Home | Contact Us | Cookies Policy

This website is certified by Health On the Net Foundation. Click to verify. This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information: verify here

Copyright 2007-2019 All rights reserved.
All information is for educational purposes only.