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Acute effects of zolpidem versus exercise on sleep and serum serotonin of patients with chronic insomnia: preliminary results


The prevalence of chronic insomnia in the general population is between 10 and 15%. The therapy most commonly prescribed for its treatment is pharmacological, however, there are some negative effects of sleeping pills, including tolerance and dependence. Non-pharmacological alternatives have been studied, among them regular exercise. Although some studies have described positive effects of exercise on sleep in chronic insomnia, there are no studies comparing exercise and drugs in the treatment of chronic insomnia.


To assess the acute effects of aerobic exercise or zolpidem on sleep and serum serotonin level in patients with chronic insomnia.


Six patients with chronic insomnia (46.5 mean age [SD] 2.7; 83% female) were randomly assigned into two groups: EXERCISE (n=3) or ZOLPIDEM (n=3). The patients in the EXERCISE group did one day of treadmill exercise for 50 min at 50% heart rate reserve, at 12:00 ±1h. The ZOLPIDEM group consumed a 10mg tablet of zolpidem 5 min before bedtime. Actigraphy was used to evaluate objective sleep pattern. Serum levels of serotonin (5-HT) were measured by High-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) method.


Difference between proportions tests by STATISTICA® showed sleep duration and sleep efficiency increased after zolpidem and exercise (35% and 4%; 10% and 9%, respectively). In addition, WASO and awakenings decreased after both treatments (63% and 41%; 43% and 29%, respectively). Serum serotonin increased after zolpidem and exercise (8% and 11%, respectively).


The preliminary results suggest positive effects on sleep and serum serotonin levels after both zolpidem and exercise.


insomnia, exercise, zolpidem, non-drug therapy.


Área Clínica


Arizona State University - ASU/College of Nursing and Health Innovation - - Estados Unidos, Universidade Federal de Goiás/Regional Jataí - Goias - Brasil


Ariella Rodrigues Cordeiro Rozales, Marcos Gonçalves Santana, Shawn D Youngstedt, Daniela Elias de Assis, Bernardo Pessoa de Assis, Daniela Cerqueira, Giselle Soares Passos