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The alcohol-type hypnotics include the chloral derivatives, of which chloral hydrate, clomethiazole, and ethchlorvynol are still used occasionally in the elderly. Chloral hydrate is metabolized to another active sedative-hypnotic—trichloroethanol. These drugs have short half-lives (about 4–6 hours) and decrease sleep latency and number of awakenings; SWS is slightly depressed, but overall REM sleep time is largely unaffected. Chloral hydrate and its metabolite have an unpleasant taste and frequently cause epigastric distress and nausea. Undesirable side effects include light-headedness, ataxia, and nightmares. Chronic use of these drugs can lead to tolerance and occasionally to physical dependence. As with barbiturates, overdosage can lead to respiratory and cardiovascular depression, and therapeutic use of these drugs has largely been superseded by the use of benzodiazepines.

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