Is It Safe To Take Sleeping Pills?

Here’s a breakdown of sleeping pills and their effects

Many people who suffer from insomnia or other sleep disorders turn to sleeping pills as a solution to their sleep problems. However, taking sleeping pills for too long can lead to addiction and other adverse side effects. 

What Are Sleeping Pills?

Sleeping pills, also known as hypnotics, are medications used to help individuals fall asleep or stay asleep. They are generally classified into two main categories: benzodiazepines and non-benzodiazepines.

Benzodiazepines, such as temazepam and triazolam, work by enhancing the activity of a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. This leads to a decrease in brain activity, helping to induce sleep. Benzodiazepines are generally recommended for short-term use only, as they can be highly addictive and have a high risk of withdrawal symptoms.

Non-benzodiazepines, such as zolpidem and eszopiclone, are a newer class of sleeping pills that work in a similar way to benzodiazepines. They’re generally considered to be less addictive than benzodiazepines, but still carry a risk of side effects and dependency if used for an extended period.

Effects of Sleeping Pills

Sleeping pills can be effective at treating sleep disorders in the short term but come with a range of potential side effects. Some of the most common side effects of sleeping pills include:

  • Drowsiness and grogginess
  • Dizziness and lightheadedness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Memory problems and confusion
  • Mood changes, including increased anxiety or depression
  • Sleepwalking and other sleep-related behaviors

In addition to these side effects, sleeping pills can lead to serious health complications if used for an extended period of time. These complications include addiction, dependence, and withdrawal symptoms when attempting to stop using the medication. 

Other potential effects of sleeping pill use may include an increased risk of falls and accidents, as well as impaired cognitive function.

When to Stop Taking Sleeping Pills

Sleeping pills should not be taken for an extended period of time. Doctors generally recommend that patients take them for no more than a few weeks. If you’ve been taking sleeping pills for an extended period, speak to your doctor before discontinuing their use.

How to Quit Taking Sleeping Pills

The best way to stop taking sleeping pills is to do so gradually, under the supervision of a doctor. Abruptly stopping sleeping pills can lead to withdrawal symptoms, which can be severe and uncomfortable. Your doctor may recommend a gradual tapering-off schedule to avoid withdrawal symptoms.

Alternative Ways to Improve Sleep

Instead of relying on sleeping pills, there are alternative ways to improve your sleep quality. Some of the most effective methods include:

  • Practicing good sleep hygiene, such as avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bedtime, keeping a consistent sleep schedule, and creating a relaxing bedtime routine.
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) is a type of talk therapy that teaches patients to identify and change negative sleep habits and patterns.
  • Relaxation techniques, such as meditation, deep breathing, or progressive muscle relaxation.
  • Natural sleep aids, such as melatonin supplements or herbal teas.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, while sleeping pills can be an effective short-term solution for sleep problems, they shouldn’t be taken for an extended period of time. If you’re struggling with sleep problems, speak to your doctor about the best course of treatment for your individual needs. 

By following the tips and techniques outlined in this article, you can improve your sleep quality without the risks and side effects associated with long-term use of sleeping pills.