Hypnotics, or soporifics, are a class of drugs which promote and induce sleep. They are the opposite of eugeroics which promote wakefulness. They are commonly distributed in the form of pharmaceutical drugs prescribed to treat insomnia.
They differ from sedatives which are anxiolytic, muscle relaxing, and euphoric. They both often overlap leading to the term "sedative-hypnotics." Many hypnotics such as zopiclone can disturb the first sleep cycle and should not be used as a long-term solution to insomnia for this reason.
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- Goodman & Gilman's The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics | Chapter 17. Hypnotics and Sedatives | http://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com/content.aspx?bookid=374§ionid=41266223
- Criteria for selection of appropriate benzodiazepine hypnotic therapy. (PubMed.gov / NCBI) | https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1680126