What you need to know about sleeping pills and sleep aids. Learn about side effects and lifestyle changes that may be more effective.
the idea that a pill can instantly solve your sleep problems is very appealing. Unfortunately, sleeping pills don’t cure the underlying cause of insomnia, and in fact, can often make the problem worse in the long run. Concerns regarding over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription sleep aids include:
Side effects. Side effects can be severe, including prolonged drowsiness the next day, confusion, and forgetfulness.
Drug tolerance. You may, over a period of time, build up a tolerance to sleep aids, and you will have to take more and more for them to work, which in turn can lead to more side effects.
Drug Dependence. You may come to rely on sleeping pills to sleep and will be unable to sleep or have even worse sleep without them.
Withdrawal symptoms. If you stop the medication abruptly, you may have withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, sweating and shaking.
Drug interactions. Sleeping pills can interact with other medications. This can worsen side effects and sometimes be dangerous, especially with prescription painkillers and other sedatives.
Rebound insomnia. If you need to stop taking sleeping pills, sometimes insomnia can become even worse than before.
Masking an underlying problem. There may be an underlying medical or mental disorder, or even a sleep disorder, causing your insomnia that can’t be treated with sleeping pills.
Side Effects of Sleeping Pills
All prescription sleeping pills have side effects, which can vary depending on the specific drug, the dosage, and how long the drug lasts in your system. Common side effects include headache, muscle aches, constipation, dry mouth, daytime sleepiness, trouble concentrating, dizziness, unsteadiness, and rebound insomnia