Types of Sleep Tablets and How They Work
“Sleeping pills” is a blanket term for prescription and over-the-counter sleep tablets commonly taken to fight insomnia and sleep disturbances.
Non-Prescription Sleeping Pills
Over-the-counter sleeping pills have been around for years and many Americans keep a stash handy in their bathroom medicine cabinet. They are convenient, affordable and help you sleep in a pinch. But they are not well-suited to long-term use and are not recommended as a solution for chronic insomnia. These include brand names Sominex, Unisom, and Nytol among others.
Prescription Insomnia Pills
Prescription sleep medications have come a long way in the last decade. Now it seems as though you see a TV commercial for a new sleep aid nightly. With millions of Americans reporting frequent problems sleeping through the night, it’s no wonder that the sleep industry at large is a $27 billion a year business and part of that is in sleeping pills. Common brand name prescription sleep aids include:
and generic sleep aids:
These powerful sleep tablets, with the exception of Rozerem, are either benzodiazepines or non-benzodiazepines. Both categories are primarily indicated for short-term use in insomnia patients and are only recommended for use under close supervision by a doctor. Of the three kinds of insomnia patterns: sleep onset, middle waking and late waking, only the first two are most treatable with the popular prescription sleep aids due to their notoriously short half-lives. Rozerem is again the exception. This is yet another reason why some physicians automatically prescribe sleep inducing anti-depressants instead: they have much longer half-lives and let you maintain treatment long-term.
How To Take Sleeping Pills
OTC sleep aids are effective for transient insomnia or infrequent sleeplessness. But they should be avoided for chronic insomnia. Take most OTCs just before bedtime. They are effective at putting you to sleep and helping you stay asleep. Follow all package directions and avoid taking with other medications or with alcohol.
Prescription sleeping pills like popular Ambien and Lunesta should only be taken under the supervision of a physician. Your physician should write a prescription and discuss the various side effects of taking the drug. Because these sleep aids are so fast acting you should take them with water just before you go to bed. Only take what you’ve been prescribed and no more. If you continue to have problems sleeping you cannot take more—risks for overdosing are high. At the first sign of very adverse side effects talk to your physician immediately.