Preliminary reports on Merck’s experimental sleep drug Suvorexant indicate it helps insomniacs fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Suvorexant works differently from other sleeping pills. Current sleep medications work on brain receptors that increase sleepiness.
Suvorexant inhibits Orexin, a hormone that acts on the brain to increase wakefulness. Brain levels of Orexin are naturally lower during the night. An additional interesting use for Suvorexant is that it might be particularly helpful for shift workers, who need to sleep during the day when Orexin levels are high. Merck is hoping to receive FDA approval for Suvorexant in the Summer of 2013.