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This study is the first comparative trial of sleep medications at high altitude. We performed a randomized, double-blind trial of temazepam and acetazolamide at an altitude of 3540 meters. 34 healthy trekkers with self-reports of high-altitude sleep disturbance were randomized to temazepam 7.5 mg or acetazolamide 125 mg taken at bedtime for one night. The primary outcome was sleep quality on a 100 mm visual analog scale. Additional measurements were obtained with actigraphy; pulse oximetry; and questionnaire evaluation of sleep, daytime drowsiness, daytime sleepiness, and acute mountain sickness. Sixteen subjects were randomized to temazepam and 18 to acetazolamide. Sleep quality on the 100 mm visual analog scale was higher for temazepam (59.6, SD 20.1) than acetazolamide (46.2, SD 20.2; p=0.048). Temazepam also demonstrated higher subjective sleep quality on the Groningen Sleep Quality Scale (3.5 vs. 6.8, p=0.009) and sleep depth visual analog scale (60.3 vs. 41.4, p=0.028). The acetazolamide group reported significantly more awakenings to urinate (1.8 vs. 0.5, p=0.007). No difference was found with regards to mean nocturnal oxygen saturation (84.1 vs. 84.4, p=0.57), proportion of the night spent in periodic breathing, relative desaturations, sleep onset latency, awakenings, wake after sleep onset, sleep efficiency, Stanford Sleepiness Scale scores, daytime drowsiness, or change in self-reported Lake Louise Acute Mountain Sickness scores. We conclude that, at current recommended dosing, treatment of high-altitude sleep disturbance with temazepam is associated with increased subjective sleep quality compared to acetazolamide.

Original publication




Journal article


High Alt Med Biol

Publication Date





234 - 239


Acetazolamide, Actigraphy, Adult, Altitude, Carbonic Anhydrase Inhibitors, Double-Blind Method, Female, Humans, Hypnotics and Sedatives, Male, Middle Aged, Oxygen, Sleep Disorders, Intrinsic, Sleep Stages, Surveys and Questionnaires, Temazepam, Young Adult