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Volume 10 No. 01
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Accepted Papers

Scientific Investigations

The Effect of Two Benzodiazepine Receptor Agonist Hypnotics on Sleep-Dependent Memory Consolidation

Janine M. Hall-Porter, Ph.D.; Paula K. Schweitzer, Ph.D.; Rhody D. Eisenstein, M.D., F.A.A.S.M.; Hasan Ali H. Ahmed, M.D.; James K. Walsh, Ph.D., F.A.A.S.M.
Sleep Medicine and Research Center, St. Luke's Hospital, Chesterfield, MO


Numerous studies have demonstrated that sleep promotes memory consolidation, but there is little research on the effect of hypnotics on sleep-dependent memory consolidation. We compared bedtime administration of zolpidem-ER 12.5 mg (6- to 8-h duration of action), middle-of-the-night administration of zaleplon 10 mg (3- to 4-h duration of action), and placebo to examine the effect of different durations of hypnotic drug exposure on memory consolidation during sleep.


Twenty-two participants with no sleep complaints underwent 3 conditions in a counterbalanced crossover study: (1) zolpidem-ER 12.5 mg (bedtime dosing), (2) zaleplon 10 mg (middle-of-the-night dosing), and (3) placebo. Memory testing was conducted before and after an 8-h sleep period, using a word pair association task (WPT; declarative memory) and a finger-tapping task (FTT; procedural memory).


ANOVA revealed a significant condition effect for the WPT (p = 0.025) and a trend for the FTT (p = 0.067), which was significant when sex was added to the model (p = 0.014). Improvement in memory performance following sleep was lower with bedtime dosing of zolpidem-ER compared to placebo and middle-of-the-night dosing of zaleplon. There were no differences between placebo and zaleplon.


The results suggest that in some circumstances hypnotics may have the potential to reduce the degree of sleep-dependent memory consolidation and that drug-free sleep early in the night may ameliorate this effect.


Hall-Porter JM; Schweitzer PK; Eisenstein RD; Ahmed HAH; Walsh JK. The effect of two benzodiazepine receptor agonist hypnotics on sleep-dependent memory consolidation. J Clin Sleep Med 2014;10(1):27-34.

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