Findings based on efficacy trials using suvorexant, a new class of sleep medications, to treat insomnia made a splash during a late-breaking abstract session Wednesday at SLEEP 2012, the 26th Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies. Researchers and the drug manufacturer Merck report suvorexant significantly reduced the time it took for patients to fall asleep and increase the amount of time patients stayed asleep compared to a placebo.

The drug works by targeting and blocking orexins, the chemical messengers in the brain that help keep you awake. Researchers say this approach unique compared to other sleep medications. It may be most beneficial for patients with sleep-maintenance insomnia.

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