Sleeping pills come in a variety of forms, including supplements, and many of them are available over-the-counter, while some are available only on prescription.
Although many people can fall asleep by following good sleep hygiene practices and experimenting with different techniques and behaviors, doctors may also be able to prescribe sleeping pills to some patients who are suffering from insomnia or some other sleeping disorder.
As with many drugs, the safety and effectiveness of sleeping pills are dependent on the dosage, and we’ll discuss this in more detail later in this article.
What Are The Best Sleeping Pills?
Sedative hypnotics are the most common sleeping pills. This is a class of drugs used to help people fall asleep or stay asleep. Benzodiazepines, barbiturates, and other hypnotics are examples of sedative-hypnotics.
Anti-anxiety medications such as Ativan, Librium, Valium, and Xanax are benzodiazepines. They also make people sleepy by increasing drowsiness. Halcion is an older benzodiazepine sedative-hypnotic drug that has been largely replaced by newer drugs. While these drugs may be helpful in the short term, they are all potentially addictive and can cause memory and attention problems. They are generally not advised for long-term treatment of sleeping disorders.
Barbiturates are a type of sedative-hypnotic drug that depresses the central nervous system and causes sedation. Barbiturates, either short- or long-acting, are used as sedatives or sleeping pills. The majority of the time, however, these hypnotic drugs are only used as anesthesia. Overdosing on them can be fatal.
Newer medications make it easier to fall asleep. Ambien, Lunesta, and Sonata are examples of sleep-inducing drugs that bind to the same receptors in the brain as benzodiazepines. They are less likely than benzodiazepines to become habit-forming, but they can still cause physical dependence over time. They have the ability to quickly increase drowsiness and sleep. Rozerem, another sleep aid, works in a different way than other sleep aids. It works by affecting the melatonin hormone in the brain, and it is non-addictive. Belsomra is a non-addictive sleep aid that works by affecting a brain chemical called orexin. Silenor, a low-dose form of the tricyclic antidepressant doxepin, is another non-addictive sleep medicine.
Sleeping Pills Over The Counter
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 take melatonin or valerian supplements to help them sleep. Melatonin is a natural sleep-inducing hormone produced by your body. Valerian, on the other hand, has been used for centuries to help them relax and sleep.
It is important to seek medical advice before using any of these sleep aids, even though they are widely available. Drugs and over-the-counter sleep aids (including supplements) can interact with other medications or exacerbate health problems.
Side Effects and Potential Complications
Eight out of ten people have a hangover the next day after taking a sleeping pill, according to research. Dizziness or balance issues are common, as are feelings of drowsiness and foggy thinking. Daytime effects can impair your ability to drive, work, attend school, and perform other responsibilities.
The following are possible side effects of over-the-counter and prescription sleeping pills and supplements:
- Diarrhea or constipation.
- Dry mouth.
- Weakness of muscles.
When you take sleeping aids on a regular basis, your body may begin to rely on them for sleep. Insomnia can return worse than before if you stop taking the medication. Rebound insomnia is the name given to this phenomenon.
Talk to your doctor if you’ve been taking sleep aids for a long time about how to safely stop. It could take months for you to get off the medication.
Sleep aids should not be combined with other sedatives or alcohol, as this can lead to drowsiness. There’s a risk of overdosing on the medication.
Parasomnia may occur as a side effect of some prescription sleep medications. While you’re still mostly asleep, this disrupting sleep disorder can cause dangerous behaviors like driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Z-drugs, in particular, can cause people to sleepwalk, eat, take medications, talk, or even drive while they’re unconscious of their actions. Even though you appear to be awake, your brain isn’t yet fully awake. After waking up, most people have no recollection of doing any of these things.
Substance abuse is possible with benzodiazepines. Doctors recommend only short-term use of these sleeping pills in order to minimize this risk. Z-drugs are more likely to be prescribed to you.
Below are some of the signs that you’ve been taking sleeping pills for too long:
- Tolerance Buildup: Over a long period of time, your body becomes accustomed to the effects of prescription sleeping pills, necessitating higher and higher doses to achieve the same result. However, if you take too much, it can cause you to have trouble breathing at night, which can be fatal. Don’t take sleeping pills for more than a week or two to reduce your risk of this side effect. To treat a short-term sleep disorder, like a need to get back to normal sleep patterns, you can use these medications. If you use them for more than a week or two, you may encounter issues.
- Sudden, Erratic Behavior: The side effects of prescription sleeping pills, particularly benzodiazepines such as triazolam, have included sleepwalking and amnesia, which we’ve all been known to do in our sleep. People who take newer sleep aids like Ambien have also reported this side effect. Your doctor should be notified immediately if you or your significant other notice any strange behavior while taking sleeping pills.
- Sleep Pill Withdrawal: Addiction to sleeping pills is a two-edged sword. It only takes a few weeks for people who abuse sleeping pills to become addicted to them. Because the body becomes dependent on sleeping pills to function, it can be difficult to kick a sleeping pill habit. They’ll go through withdrawal symptoms as their body tries to adjust to life without sleeping pills. Withdrawal symptoms from sleeping pills can be severe, but they differ from person to person depending on a variety of factors, such as the degree and duration of the addiction. If left untreated, some symptoms can be life-threatening and require immediate medical attention. Doctors keep an eye on the patient’s vital signs and address any health concerns that may arise during medical detox. Restlessness, anxiety, shivering, and circulatory issues are among the most common side effects of a sleep aid withdrawal.
Important Things to Consider Before Taking Sleeping Pills
Prescription sleeping pills may be an option if you’ve tried everything else and still can’t get to sleep. The following tips will help you make the most of them while staying safe.
See a doctor right away. Before taking sleeping pills, make an appointment with your physician to have a complete physical examination. If you’re having trouble sleeping, your doctor may be able to pinpoint the root cause. Sleeping pills should be discussed with your doctor if you’ve been taking them for more than a few weeks.
Take a look at the medication’s instructions for use. Consult your patient medication guide to make sure you know exactly how, when, and why to take your medication. When in doubt, seek the advice of your pharmacist or health care provider.
Always wait until you’re about to go to sleep before taking a sleeping pill. Increased risk of dangerous situations is associated with taking sleeping pills. Take your sleeping pill right before you plan to go to bed, after you’ve finished all of your evening activities.
Take your sleeping pill as soon as you are able to get a good night’s rest. Take a sleeping pill only if you are confident that you will be able to get a full night’s rest of seven to eight hours or more. You can take a few short-acting sleeping pills if you can stay in bed for at least four hours to avoid waking up in the middle of the night.
Keep an eye out for any negative effects. Talk to your doctor about changing your dosage or weaning off your pills if you experience any significant side effects while taking the medication. The night before an important meeting or event, don’t take a new sleeping pill because you won’t know how it affects you.
Stay away from alcoholic beverages. Alcohol and sleeping pills should never be mixed. The pills’ sedative effects are exacerbated by alcohol. If you drink even a small amount of alcohol and take sleeping pills, you may feel dizzy, confused, or faint. When alcohol and certain sleeping pills are mixed, breathing can become dangerously slowed or unresponsive, which can be life-threatening. Alcohol, on the other hand, can cause sleeplessness.
Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions when taking sleeping aids. Some prescription sleep aids are only meant to be taken for a limited period of time. Don’t hesitate to ask your doctor if you have questions. Don’t take more than the recommended dose, either. Talk to your doctor before taking additional pills if the first dose doesn’t have the desired effect on your sleep.
Quit slowly and methodically. In order to stop taking sleeping pills, you should follow the directions provided by your doctor, pharmacist, or the label. Some medications need to be gradually discontinued. You should also be aware that stopping the use of sleeping pills may cause some short-term rebound insomnia.