Sedation (also referred to as dissociative anesthesia or twilight anesthesia) creates hypnotic, sedative, anxiolytic, amnesic, anticonvulsant, and centrally produced muscle-relaxing properties. From the perspective of the person giving the sedation, the patient appears sleepy, relaxed and forgetful, allowing unpleasant procedures to be more easily completed. Sedatives such as benzodiazepines are usually given with pain relievers (such as narcotics, or local anesthetics or both) because they do not, by themselves, provide significant pain relief.
From the perspective of the person receiving a sedative, the effect is a feeling of general relaxation, amnesia (loss of memory) and time passing quickly. Many drugs can produce a sedative effect including benzodiazepines, propofol, thiopental, ketamine and inhaled general anesthetics. The advantage of sedation over a general anesthetic is that it generally does not require support of the airway or breathing (no tracheal intubation or mechanical ventilation) and can have less of an effect on the cardiovascular system which may add to a greater margin of safety in some patients.