Arousability and Fall Risk During Forced Awakenings From Nocturnal Sleep Among Healthy Males Following Administration of Zolpidem 10 mg and Doxepin 6 mg: A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Four-Way Crossover Trial

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Study Objectives: To examine and compare the arousability threshold and fall risk upon awakening of doxepin (6 mg) versus zolpidem (10 mg).

Methods: A total of 52 healthy adult males were included in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, four-way crossover study. The experimental procedure included four nights with polysomnography in the lab (zolpidem, doxepin, and their respective placebo conditions). Arousability was measured using an auditory awakening threshold delivered at the peak-plasma concentration for the active hypnotics and at matched times for the respective placebo conditions. Fall risk during the night was measured following awakening using the Berg Balance Scale and the Tandem Walk Task.

Results: Both arousability and fall risk were lower in the doxepin condition compared to the zolpidem condition. Furthermore, arousability and fall risk for doxepin did not differ significantly from the placebo conditions. A significantly greater proportion of participants in the zolpidem condition (63.5%) did not wake until receiving the loudest tone (110 dB) as compared to the doxepin (17.6%) and placebo conditions (17.3%, 5.8%).

Conclusions: Results suggest that zolpidem has greater risks for balance and awakening threshold compared with low-dose doxepin. Future prospective studies should extend results to clinical samples with population-level risk of injury and arousability.

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Accidental Falls; Adult; Arousal; Cross-Over Studies; Double-Blind Method; Doxepin; Healthy Volunteers; Humans; Hypnotics and Sedatives; Male; Middle Aged; Placebos; Polysomnography; Pyridines; Sleep; Wakefulness; Young Adult; Zolpidem

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