Sedative, any of several drugs that reduce anxiety and induce relaxation without causing sleep. Many are also hypnotics, drugs that in adequate doses may induce sleep. Barbiturates, among the earlier drugs used in sedation, have fallen into disfavor because of addiction, side-effects, dangers of over-dosage, and the availability of safer alternatives. Benzodiapezines (e.g., Valium, Librium), classified as minor tranquilizers, are now used more often.
See also: Barbiturate.