Taking Sleeping Pills
If your best attempts to get a good night's sleep have failed, prescription sleeping pills may be an option. Use them safely.
- Get a medical evaluation. Before you take sleeping pills, see your doctor for a thorough exam. Often your doctor may be able to find specific causes for your insomnia. Your doctor also likely will recommend trying non drug approaches, such as cognitive behavioral therapy. Sleeping on a regular schedule, exercising regularly, avoiding caffeine and daytime naps, and keeping stress in check also are likely to help.
- Never take a sleeping pill until you're going to bed. Sleeping pills can make you less aware of what you're doing, increasing the risk of dangerous situations. Wait to take your sleeping pill until you've completed all of your evening activities.
- Avoid alcohol. Never mix alcohol and sleeping pills. Alcohol increases the sedative effects of the pills. Even a small amount of alcohol combined with sleeping pills can make you feel dizzy, confused or faint. And, alcohol can actually cause insomnia.
- Quit carefully. When you're ready to stop taking sleeping pills, follow your doctor's instructions or the directions on the label. Some medications must be stopped gradually.
- Watch for side effects. If you feel sleepy or dizzy during the day, talk to your doctor about changing your dose or weaning off your pills.
Prescription sleeping pills are available to help you fall asleep easier, stay asleep longer — or both. Before prescribing a medication to help you sleep, your doctor will ask you a number of questions to get a clear picture of your sleep patterns. He or she may also order tests to rule out any underlying conditions that may be causing difficulty sleeping.
To reduce the risk of side effects and of becoming reliant on drugs to sleep, your doctor likely will prescribe medications for two weeks or less. If the first medication you take doesn't work after the full prescribed course, call your doctor. You may need to try more than one prescription sleeping pill before finding one that works for you.
Some prescription sleeping pills are available as generic drugs, which are typically less expensive than brand names. Ask your doctor whether there is a generic version available of the medication they prescribe.
Sleeping pills have side effects
Below is a list of side-effects associated with prescription sleeping pills:
- Severe allergic reaction
- Facial swelling
- Gastrointestinal problems, such as bloating, abdominal pain, constipation and nausea
- Sleep behaviors, such as sleep-walking and sleep-eating
- Prolonged drowsiness, though less so than with drugs that help you stay asleep