Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

'Sleep Walking' And Talking That Can Occur With Popular Sleep-aid Ambien Explained

Date:
June 30, 2009
Source:
Georgetown University Medical Center
Summary:
Some people who take the fast-acting sleep-aid zolpidem (Ambien) have been observed walking, eating, talking on the phone and even driving while not fully awake. Many often don't remember doing any of these activities the next morning. Similarly, this drug has been shown to awaken the minimally conscious into a conscious state. A new study may help explain why these "awakenings" occur.

Some people who take the fast-acting sleep-aid zolpidem (Ambien) have been observed walking, eating, talking on the phone and even driving while not fully awake. Many often don't remember doing any of these activities the next morning. Similarly, this drug has been shown to awaken the minimally conscious into a conscious state. A new study by Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC) researchers may help explain why these "awakenings" occur.

The study, published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences June 29, suggests that while some powerful brain circuits are shut down with zolpidem, the powerful sedative activates other circuits when deprived of activity.

"Brain cells or neurons are highly reactive to incoming activity throughout life," explains Molly M. Huntsman, an assistant professor in the department of pharmacology at Georgetown University Medical Center and corresponding author for the study. "When brain activity is silenced, many neurons automatically react to this change. We see this in our study which suggests that inhibitory neurons responsible for stopping neural activity are themselves shut down by zolpidem. The excitatory neurons, responsible for transmitting activity, are then allowed to re-awaken and become active again, without monitoring because the inhibitory neurons are 'asleep'."

Rodents are especially dependent upon their whiskers to explore their environment; for the study, researchers trimmed the whiskers of mice (while under anesthesia). They then studied the region of the brain responsive to whisker movements to examine activity-dependent brain circuits. After removing the whiskers and depriving neural activity, the inhibitory neurons that normally don't respond to sedation by zolpidem underwent a change, becoming more sensitive. The researchers posited that these neurons are shut down and, in turn, not able to monitor other brain circuits.

"This was really unexpected. It appears the receptors on some inhibitory neurons were changed and were able to be inhibited by zolpidem, preventing them from performing their normal functions. We merely wanted to use zolpidem as a tool to examine which type of functional inhibitory receptor is expressed in certain neurons. Yet it turns out that sensory deprivation in the form of whisker trimming is enough to alter the receptor composition expressed in these cells." Huntsman says.

Researchers say that while the study suggests that zolpidem shuts down active neural pathways and perhaps then triggers others, the activation of this trigger is unknown.

"Nevertheless, the paradoxical activation of brain circuits by a powerful sedative definitely needs more attention in additional studies both human and in animal models," Huntsman concludes.

Other authors of the paper include Peijun Li of GUMC and Uwe Rudolph of McLean Hospital, a Harvard Medical School affiliate. The authors report no related financial interests.

This work was funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Georgetown University Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Georgetown University Medical Center. "'Sleep Walking' And Talking That Can Occur With Popular Sleep-aid Ambien Explained." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 June 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090629200645.htm>.
Georgetown University Medical Center. (2009, June 30). 'Sleep Walking' And Talking That Can Occur With Popular Sleep-aid Ambien Explained. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090629200645.htm
Georgetown University Medical Center. "'Sleep Walking' And Talking That Can Occur With Popular Sleep-aid Ambien Explained." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090629200645.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, April 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups

Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) President Barack Obama gave a briefing Thursday announcing 8 million people have signed up under the Affordable Care Act. He blasted continued Republican efforts to repeal the law. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) A recent study links apathetic feelings to a smaller brain. Researchers say the results indicate a need for apathy screening for at-risk seniors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thousands Of Vials Of SARS Virus Go Missing

Thousands Of Vials Of SARS Virus Go Missing

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A research institute in Paris somehow misplaced more than 2,000 vials of the deadly SARS virus. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins