Sleep Medication

Sleep Medication and Why Do You Need Them

Is it okay for you to use sleeping drugs or sleep aids?

If it is the middle of the night, and you are lying awake looking at the ceiling, you are probably thinking about your job, bills, or your children. In the event that sleep just would not come, it is tempting to resort to a sleeping pill or sleep aid for assistance. And you may be able to acquire it right now. However, if you have problems sleeping on a regular basis, this is a warning sign that something is amiss. It may be anything as easy as drinking too much coffee or spending too much time in front of the television, your phone, or other devices late at night. Alternatively, it might be an indication of a more serious medical or psychological disorder. It does not matter what it is, sleeping drugs will not help you get well. Sleeping medications are, at most, a bandage that will only last a short time. When they are at their worst, they may become an addicted crutch that makes sleeplessness worse in the long term.

That is not to say that you should never take medicine, but it is essential to assess the advantages of taking medication against the hazards of not taking medication. In general, sleeping medications and sleep aids are most successful when taken sparingly and for brief periods of time, such as while traveling between time zones or recuperating from a medical procedure, rather than daily. If you decide to use sleeping pills on a long-term basis, it is better to use them on an occasional, “as needed” basis in order to prevent developing dependency and tolerance to them.

Why do people use sleep medication?

If you are experiencing problems falling or staying asleep on a regular basis (insomnia), schedule an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible. The kind of treatment you get will depend on what is causing your sleeplessness. A medical illness or sleep problem, for example, may sometimes be identified and treated, which is a much more successful strategy than just treating the symptom of insomnia.

Behavioral modifications learned via cognitive behavioral therapy are typically considered to be the most effective treatment for chronic insomnia. Sleeping on a regular schedule, exercising frequently, avoiding caffeine and midday naps, and maintaining a healthy level of stress are all likely to be beneficial. However, there are situations when the use of prescription sleeping medications may be beneficial in allowing you to obtain the rest you need.

The use of prescribed sleeping drugs has hazards, particularly for persons who have specific medical problems such as liver or renal failure. Always consult with your doctor before attempting a new insomnia treatment regimen.

Sleeping medication dangers and side effects

The negative effects of prescription sleeping tablets vary based on the exact medicine, the dose, and the length of time that the drug is in your system. Excessive sleepiness the following day, as well as a headache, muscular pains, constipation, dry mouth, difficulty focusing and dizziness are all common adverse effects of this medication.


Drug tolerance is a term used to describe the ability to tolerate a drug. It is possible that you may develop a tolerance to sleep aids over time, and that you will need to take more and more of them in order for them to be effective, which may result in increased negative effects.

Drug addiction is a serious problem. You may grow to depend on sleeping pills to go to sleep, and you may find yourself unable to sleep or experiencing even worse sleep if you do not take them. Prescription drugs, in particular, may be very addictive, making it difficult to discontinue use of them once they have begun.

Withdrawal symptoms are experienced. If you stop taking the medicine suddenly, you may have withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, sweating, and shaking, among other things.

Interactions between medications. Sleeping drugs may have an adverse reaction when used with other medicines. This may exacerbate negative effects and could be harmful in certain cases, particularly while using prescription pain relievers and other sedatives.

Insomnia on the rebound. If you have to stop using sleeping drugs, you may find that your insomnia becomes much worse than it was before.

Putting a bandage over an underlying issue. Sleeping drugs may not be effective in treating insomnia caused by a medical or mental problem, or even a sleep disorder. In this case, you should see your doctor.

See also Natural Brain Boosters to Improve Cognition and Health

Sleeping medicines and sleep aids available over-the-counter (OTC)

Over-the-counter sleeping medicines

Antihistamines are the principal active component in most over-the-counter sleeping medicines, and they are responsible for promoting sleepiness.

The following are examples of over-the-counter sleep medications:

Doxylamine (found in brand names such as Nytol, Sominex, Sleepinal, and Compoz) Diphenhydramine (found in brand names such as Nytol, Sominex, Sleepinal, and Compoz) (brand names such as Unisom, Nighttime Sleep Aid)

Other over-the-counter sleep aids combine antihistamines with the pain medication acetaminophen to provide a more complete sleep solution (found in brand names like Tylenol PM). Antihistamines and alcohol are combined in certain products, such as NyQuil.

When it comes to antihistamines, the issue is that their sedative characteristics typically continue far into the next day, resulting in a hangover the following day. When used for an extended period of time, they might also induce forgetfulness and headaches. As a result of these concerns, sleep specialists advise avoiding using them on a daily basis.

Antihistamine sleeping medications have a number of common negative effects.

  • The next day, you will have moderate to severe sleepiness.
  • Dizziness and forgetfulness are common side effects.
  • Clumsiness and a sense of being off-balance.
  • Constipation, as well as urine retention, are common.
  • Vision that is hazy.
  • Mouth and throat are parched.
  • Nausea.

Medications for sleep on prescription

Prescription sleeping medications are categorized as sedative-hypnotics, and there are various distinct varieties available. In general, these drugs function by interfering with receptors in the brain, causing the nervous system to slow down. Other drugs are more effective at initiating sleep than others, while some medications are more effective at keeping people sleeping. There are certain drugs that remain longer in your system than others (have a longer half-life), and others that are more likely to become habit-forming.

Benzodiazepine sedative-hypnotic sleeping pills are a kind of benzodiazepine.

Sleep drugs classified as benzodiazepines are among the oldest classes of pharmaceuticals still in widespread use today. Benzodiazepines are classed as restricted drugs because they are believed to have a greater risk of dependency than other insomnia sedative-hypnotics and are so classified as such. Benzodiazepines, which are primarily used to treat anxiety disorders, have been licensed to treat insomnia. These medications include estazolam (brand name ProSom), flurazepam (Dalmane), quazepam (Doral), temazepam (Restoril), and triazolam (brand name Triazolam) (Halcion).

Benzodiazepine sleeping medications have a number of disadvantages.

Benzodiazepines have the potential to cause both physical and psychological dependence in the user. You may believe that you cannot sleep unless you take the pills for a period of time, and if you stop taking them, you may experience physical withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety and rebound insomnia, which can be dangerous.

When sleeping medications are used on a regular basis, their efficacy might diminish since the brain receptors become less receptive to their effects as time goes on. As little as three to four weeks, benzodiazepines may lose their effectiveness and become as ineffective as a sugar pill.

The overall quality of your sleep might be diminished as a result of less restorative deep sleep and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.

You may suffer cognitive slowness and tiredness the following day (the hangover effect), which may be much worse than the sluggishness you experience as a result of true sleep deprivation on the previous night.

Even if the drug is successful while you are using it, insomnia will return once you stop taking it. As is the case with the use of any sleeping drugs, you are only delaying the solution to your insomnia issue rather than dealing with it.

There may be a relationship between this and dementia. There is some worry that the use of benzodiazepines, which are now under examination, may contribute to the development of dementia in certain people.

See also The Best Brain Boosters to Boost Cognitive Performance

Non-benzodiazepine sedative-hypnotic sleeping drugs that are not addictive

Even though some of the newer drugs do not have the same chemical structure as a benzodiazepine, they function on the same part of the brain as a benzodiazepine. Although they are believed to have fewer adverse effects and a lower chance of becoming addicted, they are nevertheless classified as prohibited drugs. Included among them are zaleplon (Sonata), zolpidem (Ambien), and eszopiclone (Lunesta), all of which have been studied for extended periods of time, up to six months.

Cons of sleeping medications that do not include benzodiazepines

Non-benzodiazepines, on the whole, have fewer side effects than benzodiazepines, but this does not mean that they are appropriate for everyone. Although this form of sleep drug may not be useful in helping people sleep, the long-term implications of using it are now unclear.

Due to the substantial danger of morning grogginess while driving, particularly in female patients, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently advised the producers of Ambien and related sleeping medicines to drop the recommended standard dose. Some of the other adverse effects are as follows:

  • Drug tolerance is a term used to describe the ability to tolerate a drug.
  • Insomnia on the rebound.
  • Headaches, dizziness, nausea, and trouble swallowing or breathing are all possible side effects.
  • A number of potentially hazardous sleeping habits are observed, such as sleep-walking, sleep-driving, and sleep-eating in some cases.
  • Depression that has developed or worsened; suicidal thoughts or deeds
  • Hypnotic sleeping medications that act as a melatonin receptor agonist

Ramelteon (Rozerem) is a novel kind of sleep drug that works by imitating the action of the hormone melatonin, which is responsible for sleep regulation. There is minimal danger of physical dependence, but there are still negative effects. It is used to treat sleep onset issues, however, it is ineffective in the treatment of problems with remaining asleep.

The most prevalent adverse effect associated with Ramelteon is dizziness. This medication may potentially exacerbate the symptoms of depression, and it should not be taken by persons who have suffered from severe liver damage.

Antidepressants that are prescribed as sleeping medications

Antidepressants like sleeping medications

Antidepressants have not been authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of insomnia, nor has their usage been shown to be useful in the treatment of sleeplessness. Some antidepressants, on the other hand, are given off-label because of their sedating effects. As with any depression medicine, there is a modest but considerable risk of suicide ideation or exacerbation of depression, especially in children and adolescents who are taking the drug.

Supplements for sleep that are herbal or nutritional in nature may be beneficial.

Visit your local pharmacy and you will find hundreds of products that are marketed as “natural” sleep aids. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate dietary supplements for safety, quality, efficacy, or even truth in labeling, thus it is your responsibility to do your own research. Despite conflicting data, the following supplements have the greatest study to support their use as insomnia treatments:


Valerian is a sedative plant that has been used to treat insomnia and anxiety since the second century A.D. It is a member of the mint family. It is thought to function by boosting the amount of the calming neurotransmitter GABA in the brain’s cells. Although the use of valerian for insomnia has not been fully researched, the first findings are encouraging, and the herb is usually regarded as safe and non-habit forming in nature. It is most effective when taken on a daily basis for two or more weeks.


Melatonin is a hormone that occurs naturally in the body and rises in concentration at night. This condition is brought on by darkness, and its levels stay raised throughout the night until they are reduced by the dawning light of the next day. However, although melatonin does not seem to be especially useful in the treatment of the vast majority of sleep disorders, it may alleviate sleep issues caused by jet lag and shift work. Simple exposure to light at the appropriate moment, on the other hand, may be as effective. It is important to be informed that melatonin might interact with some blood pressure and diabetic drugs if you use it. It is preferable to keep with minimal dosages (one to three milligrams for most individuals) in order to reduce adverse effects and next-day sleepiness the following day.


Many people drink chamomile tea because of its calm relaxing characteristics, however, it might provoke allergic responses in persons who are sensitive to plants or pollen. Bring water to a boil, then add two to three tea bags (or the equivalent of loose-leaf tea), cover with a lid, and let steep for 10 minutes to reap the full sleep-promoting benefits.


Tryptophan is a basic amino acid that is essential in the production of the chemical messenger serotonin, which is a brain neurotransmitter that aids in the signaling of sleep to the body. In the body, L-tryptophan is a frequent byproduct of tryptophan, which may be converted to serotonin by the body. According to some research, L-tryptophan may assist individuals in falling asleep more quickly. The outcomes, on the other hand, have been inconsistent.

Kava. Kava has been demonstrated to help patients who suffer from stress-related sleeplessness sleep better. Kava, on the other hand, has the potential to induce liver damage, thus it is not suggested except under medical supervision.

Lemon balm, passionflower, and lavender are among the herbs that have been shown to have a relaxing or sedating impact on the body and mind. In order to enhance sleep, several natural sleep supplements make use of a mixture of these components.

See also Brain Boosters and Nootropics: What You Need to Know

Natural does not always imply safe.

In general, although certain treatments, such as a lemon balm or chamomile tea, are safe, others may have more significant adverse effects and might interact with or diminish the efficiency of prescription drugs. Valerian, for example, has been shown to interact with antihistamines and statin medications. Before experimenting with a new herbal cure, do your homework and consult with your doctor or pharmacist if you have any pre-existing problems or medications that you are currently on.

Tips for using sleeping medications in a more safe manner

Using sleep medication tips

If you decide to experiment with sleeping drugs or sleep aids, take in mind the safety precautions listed below.

Never combine sleeping medicines with alcoholic beverages or other sedative medications. The use of alcoholic beverages not only impairs sleep quality, but also intensifies the sedative effects of sleeping drugs. The combination has the potential to be very dangerous—even lethal.

Do not take a sleeping tablet unless you are certain that you will have enough time for seven to eight hours of sleep. If you don’t, you can find yourself feeling quite sleepy the following day.

If you need to take a second dosage, do not do so in the middle of the night. It is unsafe to increase your prescription dose more than once, and since there is less time for the drug to exit your system, it may be difficult to get out of bed the following morning and shake off the grogginess.

Begin with the smallest dosage that has been prescribed. Learn more about your reaction to the medication as well as the types of side effects you may experience.

Avoid using it on a regular basis. Instead of using sleeping pills every night, try to keep them for emergencies only to prevent becoming dependent on them and to reduce the likelihood of harmful effects.

After taking a sleeping tablet, never go behind the wheel or operate heavy equipment. This suggestion is particularly crucial if you are using a new sleep aid for the first time since you may not be aware of how it will affect your sleep.

Read the package insert that comes with your medicine thoroughly before using it. Precautions should be taken to avoid any negative side effects or medication interactions. The use of several commonly prescribed drugs, such as antidepressants and antibiotics, may result in harmful interactions with sleeping tablets, both prescription and over-the-counter. Many sleeping medicines need the avoidance of particular foods, such as grapefruit and grapefruit juice, in order to be effective.

Before using sleeping drugs, make sure you get a good night’s sleep.

Consult your doctor or pharmacist about the following topics:

You may also be using any other drugs or supplements. The use of several commonly prescribed drugs, such as antidepressants and antibiotics, may result in harmful interactions with sleeping tablets, both prescription and over-the-counter. It is possible that herbal and nutritional supplements, as well as over-the-counter pharmaceuticals such as pain relievers and allergy treatments, may cause an interaction.

You may also be suffering from other medical issues. Patients with medical conditions such as high blood pressure, liver disease, glaucoma, depression, and breathing issues may have substantial adverse effects from several sleep drugs.

Instructions on how to increase, decrease, and/or terminate usage are provided in detail. It is critical that you follow the use instructions to the letter. In addition to the hazards associated with increasing your dosage, abruptly discontinuing your usage may also result in issues if done too soon. In certain situations, suddenly ceasing medicine might result in unpleasant side effects, including rebound sleeplessness in the short term.

Healthy behaviors, rather than sleeping drugs, are recommended for improved sleep.

According to research, the most effective strategy to manage insomnia is to alter your lifestyle and sleeping patterns. In the near term, even if you opt to utilize sleeping pills or prescriptions, doctors advocate making adjustments to your lifestyle and nighttime routine as a long-term solution to sleep disorders. A greater favorable influence on sleep may be achieved by behavioral and environmental adjustments rather than medicine, and without the danger of side effects or reliance.

See also Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment of Sleep Disorders

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