NCLEX Review: Sedatives, Hypnotics, & Insomnia Management

This NCLEX exam tutorial will cover sedatives, hypnotics and insomnia management. As you watch, you will learn how to do the following for the NCLEX test: define sedatives and hypnotics, explain how CNS depressants work, describe insomnia and what causes this condition, give examples of benzodiazepines and their side effects, give examples of non-benzodiazepine drugs and explain what they are along with their adverse effects, and go through patient teaching guidelines for sedative-hypnotic drugs. Because you should attempt to treat insomnia with non-drug measures first to promote relaxation and sleep, we will end this video with good sleep habits to beat insomnia.

NCLEX Sedatives, Hypnotics, & Insomnia Management Infographic

Infographic explaining Insomnia Management

Sedatives– drugs that promote relaxation, used for their calming effect to relieve irritability or anxiety

Hypnotics – higher doses of sedatives with the main purpose of inducing sleep

Sedative-hypnotic drugs are central nervous system (CNS) depressants – work by increasing the activity of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), a neurotransmitter in the brain – which results in drowsiness and the ability to maintain sleep

Insomnia – The prolonged difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep long enough to feel rested.

The main drugs used to treat insomnia are benzodiazepines and the nonbenzodiazepine hypnotics.

Benzodiazepines – drugs that cause CNS depression, including excessive sedation, impairment of physical and mental activities, and respiratory depression

  • Flurazepam (Dalmane)
  • Temazepam (Restoril)
  • Triazolam (Halcion)
  • Quazepam (Doral)

Flumazenil (Romazicon) – antidote for benzodiazepines that reverses toxicity

Nonbenzodiazepine drugs are also used as sedative-hypnotic agents.

  • Chloral hydrate
  • Eszopiclone (Lunesta)
  • Zaleplon (Sonata)
  • Ramelteon (Rozerem)
  • Zolpidem (Ambien)

Patient teaching guidelines for sedative-hypnotic drugs…

    • Not to be taken every night – most lose effectiveness after 4 weeks of daily use
    • If drowsy from medication, do not perform tasks that require alertness, such as driving or operating machinery. Routine activities can be potentially hazardous.
    • Avoid alcohol and other depressant drugs – may lead to excessive drowsiness, difficulty breathing, traumatic injuries, and other potential adverse effects.

NCLEX Questions


by Mometrix Test Preparation | Last Updated: January 12, 2021