Sleeping pills, as the name implies, assist you in falling asleep. These pills may be used to help people with sleep disorders such as insomnia fall asleep. If you’re prone to waking up in the middle of the night, sleeping pills can help you stay asleep.
Sleep disorder pills are available in a variety of shapes and sizes. Each one functions in a different way. Some sleep aids cause drowsiness, while others work by turning off the part of your brain that keeps you awake.
What Are Sleep Disorders?
Conditions that disrupt your regular sleeping patterns are referred to as “sleep disorders.” Over 80 different types of sleep disorders exist. Some of the most common types are as follows:
- Insomnia: The inability to fall and stay asleep is known as insomnia. Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder.
- Sleep apnea: Sleep apnea is a sleeping breathing disorder in which you stop breathing for at least 10 seconds.
- Restless Leg Syndrome: The tingling or prickly sensation in the legs and a strong desire to move them are symptoms of restless leg syndrome (RLS).
- Hypersomnia: Hypersomnia is a sleep disorder in which a person cannot stay awake during the day. This includes narcolepsy, a sleep disorder characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness.
- Circadian Rhythm Disorders: Circadian rhythm disorders are problems with the sleep-wake cycle. They make it difficult for you to sleep and wake at the appropriate times.
- Parasomnia: The act of walking, talking, or eating while falling asleep, sleeping, or waking up is known as parasomnia.
Some people who are tired during the day may have a sleeping disorder. On the other hand, others are just suffering from a lack of sleep. It’s crucial to get enough sleep every night. Several factors influence how much sleep you need, including your age, lifestyle, health, and whether you’ve recently gotten enough sleep. The average adult needs 7-8 hours of sleep per night.
Do I have a Sleep Disorder?
Symptoms are influenced by the severity and type of sleeping disorder. Generally, however, symptoms of sleep disorders manifest in the form of the following:
- Trouble falling or staying asleep
- Fatigue during the day
- A strong desire to nap during the day
- Breathing patterns that are unusual
- Experiencing unusual or unpleasant urges to move.
- Changes in sleep/wake schedule that aren’t planned
- Anxiety or irritability
- Poor work or school performance
- Inability to concentrate
- Weight gain
How Are Sleep Disorders Diagnosed?
Your doctor might begin by performing a physical examination and taking notes on your symptoms and medical history. They can also order a variety of tests, such as:
- Polysomnography (PSG): This is a lab sleep study that compares oxygen levels, body movements, and brain waves to see how they affect sleep, versus a home sleep study (HST) that is done at home and used to diagnose sleep apnea.
- EEG (Electroencephalogram): This is a test that evaluates electrical activity in the brain and detects any potential problems. It’s a polysomnography test.
- MSLT (multiple sleep latency test): This is a daytime napping study that is used in conjunction with a nighttime PSG to help diagnose narcolepsy.
These tests can be extremely helpful in determining the best treatment plan for sleep disorders.
Over-The-Counter Pills For Sleep Disorder
Any adult can purchase over-the-counter sleep medications in a store. Antihistamines are commonly found in over-the-counter sleep aids. This medication is used to treat allergies, but it can make you drowsy.
Some people use melatonin or valerian supplements to help them sleep better. Melatonin supplements can boost natural melatonin production in the body and aid in the process of promoting restful sleep. The herb valerian, on the other hand, is touted as a sleep aid and sedative.
Although these sleep aids are widely available, you should consult your physician before using them. Over-the-counter sleep aids (including supplements) contain drugs that can interact with other medications or worsen health conditions.
A wide variety of over-the-counter sleep aids can be purchased at most pharmacies. The following are some of the more typical options, along with some of the possible consequences:
- Diphenhydramine (Diphenhydramine): Antihistamine diphenhydramine has sedative properties. Drowsiness, dry mouth, blurred vision, constipation, and urinary retention are all possible side effects.
- Doxylamine Succinate: Antihistamine Doxylamine also has sedative properties. Diphenhydramine-like side effects can be expected.
- Melatonin Supplements: Sleep-wake cycles are regulated by the hormone melatonin. Melatonin supplements may help treat jet lag and shorten the time it takes to fall asleep, according to some research, but the effects are typically mild. Headaches and daytime drowsiness can be side effects of the medication.
- Valerian Supplements: For some people, supplements derived from this plant are able to help them sleep. Several studies have found some therapeutic benefit, but others have not. It doesn’t appear that valerian has any negative side effects, however.
In addition to brand-name sleep aids, there are also generic versions that contain the same active ingredients as the more expensive ones. The risks and benefits of store brands are the same as those of name brands, but they are frequently less expensive.
Prescription Sleeping Pills
Prescription sleeping pills are more potent than over-the-counter sleeping pills. You’ll need a prescription from your doctor to get these pills:
- Antidepressants: Trazodone, Amitriptyline, and Doxepin are the most common sedating antidepressants used to aid sleep. It’s worth noting that these medications are used in much lower doses for sleeping and pain-relieving properties than when they’re used to treat depression. These antidepressants have the following advantages:
- They aren’t addictive in any way.
- They have the added benefit of providing some analgesic benefit.
- Physical dependence or tolerance is not produced.
- Side effects are uncommon, especially when used in low doses.
Benzodiazepines work by binding to the gamma-aminobutyric acid-A (GABA-A) receptors in the brain to reduce anxiety and promote restful sleep.
GABA is a neurotransmitter, which means it travels between neurons as a chemical messenger. The nervous system is calmed when these medications bind to GABA receptors, inducing sedation, relaxing muscles, and helping to alleviate insomnia.
Benzodiazepines cause fatigue, mental fogginess, and impaired motor control, which can last well into the morning after use. Driving safety, job performance, and decision-making may all be affected. If you have to drive in the morning, it’s critical that you don’t take the medication too late in the evening.
If you’re having trouble sleeping night after night, you should talk to your doctor. To help you get a good night’s sleep, he or she may prescribe insomnia medications like eszopiclone, zaleplon, and zolpidem, also known as “Z-drugs.” However, there are risks with these medications.
“Z-drugs,” which are only available by prescription, work by slowing brain activity. They can assist you in sleeping if used correctly. Sleep deprivation can have a negative impact on both physical and mental health. However, the treatments carry the risk of serious injuries and even death, though this is uncommon.
Common Side Effects of Sleeping Pills
Your body may become reliant on sleeping pills if you take them night after night. When you stop taking the medication, your insomnia may return, and it may be worse than before. This is known as rebound insomnia.
If you’ve been using sleep disorder pills for a long time, talk to your doctor about how to safely stop. It could take months to get off the pills.
Sleep aids should not be combined with other sedatives or alcohol. There’s a chance you’ll overdo it.
Some prescription sleep disorder pills can cause parasomnia. While you’re mostly asleep, this disruptive sleep disorder can lead to dangerous behaviors. Z-drug users, in particular, may sleepwalk or eat, take medications, talk, or even drive while completely unaware of their actions. Even if you appear to be awake, your brain is not fully alert. Most people have no recollection of doing these things when they wake up.
Benzodiazepines have a high potential for addiction, leading to substance abuse. Healthcare providers only prescribe these sleeping pills for short-term use to reduce this risk. You’re more likely to get a prescription for Z-drugs instead.
Lifestyle Changes To Sleep Better
Sleep quality can be significantly improved by making lifestyle changes, especially when combined with medical treatment. Consider doing the following:
- Increasing the amount of vegetables and fish in your diet, as well as lowering your sugar intake
- Exercising and stretching can help you relax and de-stress.
- Creating and sticking to a regular sleeping schedule.
- Drink less water before going to bed.
- Limiting caffeine consumption, especially in the late afternoon and evening.
- Reducing tobacco and alcohol consumption
- Maintaining a healthy weight in accordance with your doctor’s advice
Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day can also improve the quality of your sleep. While it may be tempting to sleep in on weekends, this can make waking up and falling asleep during the week more difficult.
Sleep disorders can lead to serious problems that need to be addressed by a healthcare provider. If you’re experiencing any sleep problems, talk to your doctor about the best course of action. You may need to take OTC pills for sleep disorder to get some sleep, or you may need a long-term prescription to reduce the likelihood of the sleep disorder recurring.
Sleep aids may help you sleep and stay asleep. However, they are not a long-term cure. In fact, many people find that they need to take sleeping pills to fall asleep and stay asleep. If you’re using sleeping pills to help you get a good night’s sleep, talk to your doctor about how to safely stop.
There are other natural ways to help you get to sleep and stay asleep, like practicing good sleep hygiene. When you make changes to your lifestyle and diet, you can also improve your sleep.
See also How to Sleep Better With Melatonin