There are several main types of the sleeping medications, with various chemical compositions, lasting effects, habit-forming properties, effectiveness, and side effects for different people.
However, it is important to know that all sleeping pills are short-term fixes. They can create dependency, their effect diminishes over time, and they have various undesirable side effects.
Sleeping pills are not effective for as long as most people think. They work only for a short period of time. Not one sleeping pills manufacturer claims that their pills should be used every night for years, yet many doctors still write these prescriptions for nightly use.
"The insomnia treatment should start with the correction of sleep hygiene and poor sleep habits before sleeping medication is used. Then patients should receive the smallest effective dose for the shortest, clinically necessary period of time."
- The National Institute of Health
Sleep medications are best used for only up to a few weeks. Regular use can lead to rebound insomnia. Thus, instead of being a cure, sleeping pills can often turn short term insomnia into chronic insomnia, and become an actual cause of the sleeping problems.
Even if you are considering taking sleeping pills temporarily - be prepared to pay for your decision with some nights of insomnia afterward.
Even if sleep medications help you sleep somewhat better, research shows that they do not improve mental or motor performance on the following day.
Insomnia can make you groggy and sleepy, but sleeping pills can do the same thing, even worse. One particular sleep study showed that in no case did people who took sleeping pills handle tasks better the next day than when they did not take pills.
The reason is that a portion of the sleeping medication typically remains in the body much longer than the few hours for which it as intended, leaving you sedated and groggy the next day. This is true for both prescription drugs and over-the-counter sleeping pills.
Personally, I have found that even if I get full night of sleep after taking sleep medication, I still wake up in the morning feeling tired and sleep deprived, the same as if I did not sleep well at all.
Frustrated by the experience with sleeping pills, I looked for the alternatives, and this is how this website was started.
Side Effects of the Sleeping Pills
All sleeping medications can have side effects. They may cause:
- High blood pressure
- Poor coordination
- Delayed reaction time
- Loss of appetite
- Digestive upset
- Frequent urination
- Skin rashes
- Blurred vision
- In higher doses, they can cause memory loss and delirium.
Because sleeping pills slow thinking and reaction time, they can cause disasters for people driving automobiles and operating heavy machinery. Studies have shown that people taking sleeping pills have higher incidences of automobile accidents than others.
It is dangerous to take sleeping pills if you have serious sleep apnea (episodes of stopped breathing and violent snoring). You may stop breathing for even longer periods of time, and these occurrences may increase.
Mixing alcohol and sleeping pills can be very dangerous. Each adds to the effects of the other.
Because of dangerous side effects, always take the lowest possible dose of the sleeping pill.
Sleeping medications have been involved in the deaths of many people, including some that are well known.
Sleeping Pills Habituation
Once you start taking sleeping pills, there is always a chance that you might become dependent on them. Eventually, they will not help you sleep anymore, but you will keep taking them because your insomnia will become even worse if you stop.
There are people who form addictions to almost anything that they experience, such as painkillers, alcohol, gambling, overeating, etc. If you think you are one of those people, be wary of sleeping medications!
As you probably already know, if you have been taking sleep medication and then stop abruptly, you will suffer from insomnia for several nights or even weeks. This is called rebound insomnia. This rebound insomnia is usually worse than the insomnia that you had before you started taking the pills. The higher the dosage, the longer you will have the withdrawal symptoms. As part of the withdrawal process, you may have serious problems getting to sleep wake up often during the night, or have nightmares.
If you are trying to stop the use of sleeping pills, expect these temporary withdrawals, and try to deal with them. Do not return to higher doses of pills.
The withdrawal from the sleeping pills needs to be gradual.
Here are some steps that can help you to stop using sleeping medications:
- Get to know techniques to help you to deal with insomnia that are described on this website. They will give you extra help and provide some relief.
- Get a supply of books of other materials to keep you occupied during sleepless nights.
- Pick a specific time to quit sleeping pills. Give yourself few weeks period, in which you know that you will have to deal with the withdrawal effects.
- Make a specific drug reduction plan. For example, what dosage of sleeping pills you will take each day. Stick to the plan.