Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2021 Oct 5. doi: 10.1007/s00787-021-01883-7. Online ahead of print.
Insomnia is a common, impairing, and difficult-to-treat comorbidity in children with neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs). Behavioral interventions can be challenging because of developmental and behavioral features that interfere with treatment. Medication management also can be difficult due to a high burden of side effects, a high rate of paradoxical responses, and frequent treatment resistance. Therefore, new treatment options for insomnia in children with NDDs are needed. Dual orexin receptor antagonists (DORAs) are a relatively new class of pharmacotherapeutics that induce sleep by inhibiting the orexin signaling pathway. To date, there is little safety or efficacy data on the use of DORAs in children with NDDs. We present four patients with NDDs and insomnia that we treated with the DORA, suvorexant. We found that patients had a wide range of responses, with one patient displaying a robust improvement in sleep onset and maintenance, while another had significant improvement in insomnia symptoms on combination therapy with trazodone. Our final two patients had mild or no benefit from suvorexant therapy. Further research is necessary to establish the safety and efficacy of DORAs in this population and to identify predictive factors, such as specific neurogenetic diagnoses or clinical features, of a positive treatment response.