Updated at: 05-08-2022 - By: Jane

Insomnia is commonly treated with sleep aids, which are over-the-counter drugs. On evenings when it’s difficult to fall asleep, they can be a useful tool.

The use of sleep aids can lead to dangerous practices, according to recent studies. You can lessen the likelihood of negative side effects from sleep drugs by consulting with a physician and learning about the potential dangers.

What Should You Take Into Consideration Before Taking a Sleep Medication?

Medications for insomnia are simply one component of a comprehensive therapy regimen. The American College of Physicians and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine advise against taking pharmacological sleep aids since they can be addictive and they often have negative effects.

How You Can Safely Use Sleeping Pills for Insomnia – Cleveland Clinic

Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) is the first-line treatment for insomnia. It’s possible that worry, anxiety, or other negative emotions may be interfering with your ability to get a good night’s rest. They can also help you develop good sleep hygiene practices that will last a long time. That being said, a short-term course of pharmacological sleep aids may help some people build these good habits and learn to manage insomnia in the long run as well.

As a result of an undetected sleep disorder or medical condition, many people have difficulty sleeping at night. A sleep study or other testing can reveal these issues, which may need to be addressed in conjunction with the treatment for the insomnia itself.

What Precautions Are Important When Taking Sleep Medications for the First Time?

Prior to beginning any new drug, it is always advisable to consult your physician. Over-the-counter sleep aids and herbal supplements have their own set of possible dangers. In order to make an informed decision, you should consult a healthcare practitioner.

Choosing a Sleep Aid

Sleep aids come in a wide variety of forms. Before prescribing a specific sleeping pill, your doctor will take note of any existing mental or physical health issues and confirm that the sleep aid will not interact with any pharmaceuticals, recreational drugs or herbal treatments you are already using. You should also make sure the sleep aid doesn’t contain any substances to which you are allergic.

A variety of sleep aids can help you fall asleep faster, prevent nightly awakenings, or sleep longer. A short-acting or long-acting sleep aid will be prescribed by your doctor based on your specific needs. Take the smallest amount feasible to minimize the risk of negative effects. Your doctor will also consider whether or not you have a sleep issue that might be helped by a specific sleep aid.

How to Safely Start Treatment

In the event that your doctor prescribes a sleep aid, it is important that you read the patient information leaflet, follow your doctor’s dosage instructions, and ask any questions you may have. Prior to a significant event, it is best to avoid initiating therapy because of the potential for negative effects.

Most sleep aids have a four- to eight-hour window of effectiveness. Taking a medication to help you wake up early can leave you feeling groggy the next day. Short-acting sleep aids may be more appropriate for persons who have difficulty falling asleep but sleep peacefully once they are asleep.

Taking sleeping tablets before driving or doing anything else that requires your entire focus is highly discouraged by experts. As a caregiver, you may have to get up in the middle of the night to care for someone who is reliant on you. When taking a sleep aid, it should be taken right before going to bed to avoid interfering with nighttime activities. If you take sleeping drugs with meals, they may take longer to work.

What To Do if You Have Problems With Your Sleeping Pills

Don’t experiment with a different dosage without consulting your doctor first; it may take a few nights before you notice any difference in how well you sleep. Stopping some sleep drugs abruptly can result in rebound insomnia. If you experience any negative effects or have any other questions, contact your doctor right away so that they can guide you through the process of properly discontinuing the drug.

It is likely that you will return to your doctor in a few weeks if he or she has prescribed sleeping drugs for an extended period of time. Your doctor may alter your dosage or prescribe you a new drug if the current one isn’t working.

How to use sleeping pills safely? | Vinmec

Is It Safe To Take Sleeping Pills Every Night?

Experts generally agree that sleep aids should not be taken long-term. Short-term stressors, jet lag, and other sleep issues can be alleviated by using sleeping tablets. Some studies have connected regular use of sleep aids to a higher risk of death, despite a lack of data on the long-term safety and efficacy of such use. Sleep aids may also change the stages of sleep, which might have an impact on the quality of your night’s sleep.

Tolerance to sleep aids is common, which means that patients must take ever higher doses to achieve the same results. Rebound sleeplessness, anxiety, anger, and weird nightmares are all possible side effects of this.

Doctors may provide regular doses of prescription sleeping medication to patients with persistent insomnia who have failed to respond to previous treatments. Doctors may prescribe these long-term sleep aids for only a few evenings a week to reduce the danger of tolerance or addiction. The long-term use of over-the-counter sleep aids is not recommended.

Are Sleeping Pills Safe?

Sleeping tablets are often used by many people with no severe side effects. On the other hand, there may be negative effects such as drowsiness or headaches after using almost any sleep medication currently available on the market today. It may be possible to avoid these adverse effects by taking the lowest possible dose possible. In addition, doctors advise patients to avoid using sleep aids the night before important decisions are to be made.

More often than not, you’ll notice more serious consequences. If you experience any of the following symptoms, you should see a doctor right away:

  • You may experience a brief period of sleeplessness after discontinuing the usage of sleep medications, even if you only did so for a brief period of time. Weaning yourself off the medicine by reducing your doses gradually is generally recommended by doctors when it is possible.
  • Some sleep drugs may cause people to engage in activities while they are not fully awake, such as driving. You may experience these side effects for the first time after using the sleep aid, or you may not experience them at all. It is extremely perilous to engage in complex sleep behaviors, which may lead to death or major injury. If you’re having trouble sleeping, see a doctor right away.
  • When taking sleeping medications alongside alcohol, opiates, antidepressants, or antihistamines, extreme caution should be exercised. Combining two or more central nervous system depressants, in particular, can cause respiratory problems and even death. Patients should only be prescribed these combinations if there is no other treatment option, according to the FDA

Certain sleep aids can cause psychosis, respiratory and circulation problems, and even death if taken in excess.

Who Should Be Extra Careful When Taking Sleep Aids?

There may be increased hazards for those with other medical illnesses, people who are taking other prescriptions at the same time, and persons with health ailments such renal disease, liver problems or low blood pressure.

As a result of their slower metabolism, women and the elderly typically require lesser doses of medication. It is typically recommended that pregnant and lactating women avoid the use of sleep aids due to the lack of evidence into its effects. They may pose a risk to a developing fetus, according to certain studies.

The elderly are more susceptible to side effects and falls, thus caution should be exercised when taking sleep drugs to avoid alertness and balance issues. Dementia may be exacerbated or accelerated by several sleep aids.

Most specialists advise against the use of sleep medications in children because of the lack of research on the topic.

What Is the Safest Sleep Aid?

Newer sleep medication is generally thought to be safer than older medication in many sleep drug families. Individuals’ health, age, and other circumstances will all play a role in determining which sleep aid is the safest for them.

  • Benzodiazepines: Benzodiazepines are among the more addictive sleep aids, despite their continued widespread use. Because most people soon become accustomed to their effects, they are not frequently prescribed long-term.
  • Unlike benzodiazepines, newer Z medicines have a more desirable side effect profile and are less likely to be abused. Z medications have been found to be more likely to trigger complicated sleep patterns, according to the FDA.
  • When compared to other medications, the likelihood of becoming dependent on orexin receptor antagonists appears to be reduced. When using this newer sleep medication, somnolence has been the most common side effect so far.
  • Headaches and drowsiness throughout the day are possible side effects of antidepressant medications taken at night. But the most widely prescribed antidepressants for insomnia are taken at levels that are less likely to induce adverse effects. It is possible that antidepressants can worsen sleeplessness in patients with bipolar disorder.
  • There is now a substantial risk of overdosing on barbiturates, which were once a prominent treatment option. These should only be used in extremely particular circumstances, according to the FDA.
  • Commonly prescribed sleeping medications contain an antihistamine as its active ingredient. Research suggests that antihistamines may cause poor sleep quality and next-day drowsiness in the majority of persons.
  • One of the safest sleep aids on the market, melatonin has only a few negative effects. In order to imitate the effects of melatonin, a prescription medicine called ramelteon has been created to do just that. It’s not habit-forming, and it doesn’t mess with your circadian rhythm like melatonin does.

Many individuals assume that over-the-counter sleep aids are the safest because they don’t require a doctor’s note. To be sure, there are risks associated with over-the-counter sleep medications as well. In addition, drugs and herbal supplements not approved by the FDA for the treatment of insomnia may have significant side effects. Before using over-the-counter or natural sleep aids, it is strongly recommended to see a doctor.

Are drugstore sleep aids safe? - Harvard Health

6 Safety Tips for Taking Sleeping Pills for Insomnia

1. Allow enough time for a full night’s sleep

Sleep aids are only effective if you give yourself adequate time to sleep.

To assist people go asleep, she says, but “additional grogginess” when they first wake up isn’t what she wants. A full eight hours is recommended for sleep, so I encourage patients to make sure they’re getting enough shut-eye. ”

2. Don’t try sleeping pills before a big day

On a night when you won’t have to get up early, drive, or make crucial decisions the next day, Dr. Vensel-Rundo recommends using a sleep aid.

For those who take too much or don’t get enough sleep, excessive morning sleepiness is more likely to occur. You could also be able to sleepwalk or forget what you said or did on the phone or in an email or text message.

Even if you use a sleep aid, you’ll be more tired during the day if you keep falling asleep. Dr. Vensel-Rundo explains that sleep aids function by activating the brain’s sleep centers and shutting down the wake regions. If you take the prescription as directed, you should be able to fall asleep more easily and stay asleep for a longer period of time. Tell your doctor if you find it difficult to get out of bed in the morning.

In Case You or a Loved One Is a Sleepwalker

3. Be on the lookout for side effects

The use of sleep aids can temporarily worsen depression in people with a history of the condition. Although headaches and nausea are possible side effects, they aren’t the norm.

Dr. Vensel-Rundo adds that the drugs also lower stress and calm your muscles.

Those who are sleepy or experience hallucinations are more likely to do so, she says. Clouded- or foggy-thought processes are commonly referred to as this.” We refer to it as “sleep intoxication.”

4. Only take pills for a short time

Dr. Vensel-Rundo recommends that patients take sleep aids nightly for two to four weeks. They recommend that you only take the drug three evenings a week if you require it for a longer period of time.

For now, she says, “there aren’t many long-term studies, so we don’t know the implications of long-term use of sleep aids. When using certain assistive devices, “some reports suggest memory impairment and coordination impairment.”

If you’re elderly, you’re already at an increased risk of falling due to medicine.

5. Don’t stop taking a sleep aid suddenly

Rebound insomnia — three to four days of more severe insomnia – can occur after abruptly quitting. Even after a limited period of use, patients may experience a relapse of sleeplessness.

Weaning yourself off over days or weeks is what Dr. Vensel-Rundo recommends instead, she explains. If you take a nightly sleep aid, cut back on the dosage for a few weeks. Until you no longer require the medication, keep following this pattern. You can gradually reduce your dosage if you’re currently taking the lowest possible level.

The Risks of Taking Sleeping Pills | Everyday Health

6. Seek help if over-the-counter sleep aids aren’t working

Nearly half of all Americans have had some form of sleeplessness at some point in their lives. More than a quarter of people have trouble sleeping because of it. Adults over the age of 65 are more likely than males to suffer from it. Women are slightly more likely than men to suffer from it.

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