The effects of clomethiazole on polysomnographically recorded sleep in healthy subjects

Horst Gann*, Kerstin Hartig, Bernd Feige, Rigo Brueck, Fritz Hohagen, Gesa Weske, Dietrich Van Calker, Dieter Riemann

*Corresponding author for this work
1 Citation (Scopus)


Clomethiazole is widely used in European countries to treat alcohol withdrawal symptoms including delirium tremens. The current study aimed to explore the effects of clomethiazole on the sleep of healthy volunteers. We postulated both a hypnotic and a REM suppressive effect as well as the occurrence of a rebound phenomenon following three days of treatment with clomethiazole. The study group was composed of five men and five women. The probands were examined in the sleep laboratory throughout a course of seven nights. The first night was considered as the adaptation night and the second as the baseline night. Prior to nights 3 to 5, probands took 384 mg clomethiazole at 22 hours. The 6th and 7th nights served to record potential effects of medication discontinuation. The current study confirms the indication in the scientific literature with regard to hypnotic and REM-suppressive effects of clomethiazole, as well as a rebound phenomenon following discontinuation of the medication. The effect of clomethiazole on the sleep EEG was most obvious in the first half of the night. The analysis of the polysomnogram in terms of each half of the night gave no indication of a rebound phenomenon during the second half. The REM sleep-suppressing component of clomethiazole is of great interest in connection with its use in treating delirium tremens. The rebound phenomenon in healthy controls after only three days of medication at a relatively low dosage of clomethiazole underscores the need to administer it in doses individually tailored to the extent of the alcohol withdrawal syndrome in the individual patient.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)284-290
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 08.2005

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)


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