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Are sleeping pills dangerous: Alternative Treatments & Remedies for Insomnia

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7 Easy Snoring Remedies: How to Stop Snoring

You may be among the 45% of normal adults who snore at least occasionally or you likely know someone who does. They may be the brunt of jokes at family gatherings (“Uncle Joe snores so loudly he rattles the windows!”), but snoring is serious business.

For one, a snoring spouse often keeps the other person from a good night’s sleep, which can eventually lead to separate bedrooms. “Snoring can create real problems in a marriage,” says Daniel P. Slaughter, MD, an otolaryngologist and snoring expert at Capital Otolaryngology in Austin, Texas.

Not only is snoring a nuisance, but 75% of people who snore have obstructive sleep apnea (when breathing is disrupted during sleep for short periods), which increases the risk of developing heart disease, Slaughter says.

Use caution before you self-treat with over-the-counter sprays and pills until you’ve checked with your doctor, says Sudhansu Chokroverty, MD, FRCP, FACP, program director for Clinical Neurophysiology and Sleep Medicine at JFK Medical Center in Edison, N. J. “Many stop-snoring aids are marketed without scientific studies to support their claims,” says Chokroverty, who is also a neuroscience professor at Seton Hall University’s School of Health and Medical Sciences.

Instead, try these natural solutions and lifestyle changes, which may help you stop snoring.

1. Change Your Sleep Position.

Lying on your back makes the base of your tongue and soft palate collapse to the back wall of your throat, causing a vibrating sound during sleep. Sleeping on your side may help prevent this.

“A body pillow (a full-length pillow that supports your entire body) provides an easy fix,” Slaughter says. “It enables you to maintain sleeping on your side and can make a dramatic difference.”

Taping tennis balls to the back of your pajamas can also stop you from sleeping on your back, Chokroverty says. “Or you can recline the bed with the head up and extended, which opens up nasal airway passages and may help prevent snoring. This may cause neck pain, however. ” If snoring continues regardless of the sleep position, obstructive sleep apnea may be a cause. “See a doctor in this case,” Chokroverty says.

2. Lose Weight.

Weight loss helps some people but not everyone. “Thin people snore, too,” Slaughter says.

If you’ve gained weight and started snoring and did not snore before you gained weight, weight loss may help. “If you gain weight around your neck, it squeezes the internal diameter of the throat, making it more likely to collapse during sleep, triggering snoring,” Slaughter says.

3. Avoid Alcohol.

Alcohol and sedatives reduce the resting tone of the muscles in the back of your throat, making it more likely you’ll snore. “Drinking alcohol four to five hours before sleeping makes snoring worse,” Chokroverty says. “People who don’t normally snore will snore after drinking alcohol.”

4. Practice Good Sleep Hygiene.

Poor sleep habits (also known as poor sleep “hygiene”) can have an effect similar to that of drinking alcohol, Slaughter says. Working long hours without enough sleep, for example, means when you finally hit the sack you’re overtired. “You sleep hard and deep, and the muscles become floppier, which creates snoring,” Slaughter says.

5. Open Nasal Passages.

If snoring starts in your nose, keeping nasal passages open may help. It allows air to move through slower, Slaughter says. “Imagine a narrow garden hose with water running through. The narrower the hose, the faster the water rushes through.”

Your nasal passages work similarly. If your nose is clogged or narrowed due to a cold or other blockage, the fast-moving air is more likely to produce snoring.

A hot shower before you go to bed can help open nasal passages, Slaughter says. Also, keep a bottle of saltwater rinse in the shower. “Rinse your nose out with it while you’re showering to help open up passages,” Slaughter says.

A neti pot could also be used to rinse out the nasal passages with a salt-water solution.

Nasal strips may also work to lift nasal passages and open them up — if the problem exists in your nose and not within the soft palate.

6. Change Your Pillows.

Allergens in your bedroom and in your pillow may contribute to snoring. When did you last dust the overhead ceiling fan? Replace your pillows?

Dust mites accumulate in pillows and can cause allergic reactions that can lead to snoring. Allowing pets to sleep on the bed causes you to breathe in animal dander, another common irritant.

“If you feel fine during the day but obstructed at night, these things may be contributing to your snoring,” Slaughter says.

Put your pillows in the air fluff cycle once every couple weeks and replace them every six months to keep dust mites and allergens to a minimum. And keep pets out of the bedroom.

Beware before spending money on special pillows designed to prevent snoring, Chokroverty says. “They may work if it props up your head, which fixes nasal issues, but can cause neck pain.”

7. Stay Well Hydrated.

Drink plenty of fluids. “Secretions in your nose and soft palate become stickier when you’re dehydrated,” Slaughter says. “This can create more snoring.” According to the Institute of Medicine, healthy women should have about 11 cups of total water (from all drinks and food) a day; men require about 16 cups.

Overall, get enough sleep, sleep on your side, avoid alcohol before bedtime and take a hot shower if nasal passages are clogged, Slaughter says. “These simple practices can make a huge difference in reducing snoring.”

Sleeping Pill Overdose Risk | The Recovery Village Drug and Alcohol Rehab

Perhaps one of the greatest hazards of sleeping pills is the frequency of use. Individuals with a prescription or those using antihistamines from a corner store will often assume it is safe to use these substances night after night. However, the development of tolerance and dependence can lead to unintended results.

Sleep is a necessary and much-beloved biological function, and people are willing to go to incredible lengths to make sure they get the rest they need. This includes misusing medications meant to help this process. Due to the likelihood of abuse, it is vital to understand the dangers that come with sleeping pills, including the risk of overdose.

Some individuals may intentionally use sleep-aid medications to commit suicide. If you or someone you love is experiencing suicidal thoughts or tendencies, immediately call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

Article at a Glance:

  • People use sleeping pills to get a good night’s rest and overcome insomnia.
  • Overdosing on sleep medications can lead to death.
  • Physical signs of sleeping pill overdose are extreme lethargy, abdominal pain, breathing trouble and clumsiness.
  • Overdosing on sleeping pills can occur when a person takes 60-90 times the intended dose.
  • Flumazenil is often used to counter the effects of a sleeping pill overdose, as well as removal with a stomach pump.

Why Do People Use Sleeping Pills?

Between 50 and 70 million Americans suffer from sleeplessness, and these tired nights make 4% of the country look to medication for the chance at a good night’s sleep. Each year, millions of individuals use hypnotic drugs to achieve longer, better sleep cycles every night. These sleeping pills and aids range from high-concentrated prescriptions to over-the-counter remedies.

Physicians prescribe a wide variety of drugs to combat insomnia. Some of the more common brands include Ambien, Lunesta, and Rozerem. In addition, certain benzodiazepine sedatives and antidepressants have been known to provide similar treatment, but these drugs come with the added worry of potential dependence.

What Happens If You Overdose on Sleeping Pills?

Overdosing on sleeping pills leads to a number of outcomes, depending on the type of medication and dose. Sleeping pills do not often cause a lethal overdose when taken alone. However, this is not to say it’s impossible — certain sleep medications can lead to death as a consequence of overdose.

In the past, some individuals would use sleep medications to harm themselves. The idea of slowly drifting to sleep and not waking up was seen as the preferred means of ending one’s life. As time went on, however, researchers began to make sleeping aids safer to use, and the likelihood of fatal overdoses decreased.

Dangerous Side Effects & Overdose Symptoms

The dangerous side effects of abusing sleeping pills can begin long before an overdose occurs. Sleep-induced injuries are one such consequence. Some users have driven and wrecked their vehicles due to impaired judgment and coordination caused by sleep medications. Crimes, as well as self-harm, have also been reported. Individuals simply are unaware of their actions.

Several physical signs may be present if a sleeping pill overdose occurs, including:

  • Excessive lethargy: When used as intended, sleeping pills do just that: put people to sleep. Sleeping pill users likely use the medication often, so they should be able to differentiate their typical sleepiness from something else entirely.
  • Unanticipated behaviors or actions: Tiredness leads to clumsiness, and clumsiness leads to mistakes. People act differently when lethargic, but pay close attention to excessive, drunk-like behavior.
  • Abdominal pain: Anything from appetite loss to constipation can occur. This is usually the most infrequent symptom of sleeping pill overdoses.
  • Breathing irregularities: The overdose victim may exhibit slow or dysfunctional breathing. This should be monitored the closest of all. Administer life-saving CPR if the victim appears to be gasping for air, or if breathing ceases and consciousness is lost.

More often than not, an overdose victim is unable — or in the case of intentional overdose, unwilling — to contact the proper authorities. Sleeping pills have overwhelming sedative effects; a victim may very well fall asleep before taking precautionary measures. It may require an onlooker to get the necessary help.

Which Sleeping Pill Overdose Can Cause Death?

As mentioned above, modern sleeping agents are safer than their predecessors. Death from outright sleeping pill use is less likely than in the past, but it’s still possible. Still, there are certainly dangerous ranges of misuse at which life-threatening consequences are a higher possibility.

Ambien, for example, is typically taken at a 10 mg dose. At 600 mg, a user is entering overdose limitations, and serious damage is likely. Death is reported at doses higher than 2,000 mg, but a lethal dose may still occur at lower amounts.

An overdose on Lunesta can happen at approximately 90 times an intended dose. This would require upwards of 270 mg of the drug. Fatal overdoses typically only occur when mixed with depressants like benzodiazepines or alcohol.

Similarly, it generally takes around 200 mg of Sonata to overdose. Users have been known to survive this amount if alcohol wasn’t involved.

Sleeping Pill Overdose Treatment

Benzodiazepine sleep aids are often treated with a specific counteractive procedure. If an individual is not likely to develop seizure symptoms, a physician may choose to administer a drug known as flumazenil. It reverses sedation caused by benzos — and some other nonbenzodiazepine pills, such as Ambien — to bring a victim back to their normal state.

In cases where a large sum of pills is swallowed, these pills may be removed by a stomach pump. However, this method has been used less frequently in recent years. After treatment, hospital staff will closely monitor the overdose victim’s progress and recovery over the next few hours or days.

If you or a loved one is struggling with sleeping pill misuse or dependence, The Recovery Village can help. Contact us today to learn more about treatment plans that can work well for your needs.

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

Are Sleeping Pills Safe? the Risks of Prescription and OTC Sleep Aids

  • Sleeping pills are mostly safe, but they do have potentially harmful risks and side effects.
  • Prescription sleep aids must be taken under a doctor’s supervision, as they can be unsafe with some underlying medical conditions, and overdosing can be very dangerous. 
  • Over-the-counter sleep medication is generally safer, but you still must take as directed. 
  • This article was medically reviewed by Jason R. McKnight, MD, MS, a family medicine physician and clinical assistant professor at Texas A&M College of Medicine. 
  • This story is part of Insider’s guide to Insomnia and How to get better sleep

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Sleep problems are common. According to the National Sleep Foundation, 30% to 40% of US adults report experiencing symptoms of insomnia, and 4% of adults over the age of 20 use prescription sleep aids.

But you don’t necessarily need a prescription. There are also over-the-counter sleeping aids. Here’s what you need to know about both types of sleeping pills and their risks, side effects, and safety.

Prescription sleeping pills

Prescription sleep aids are usually reserved for those with diagnosed insomnia. 

Insomnia is defined as trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up too early for at least three nights per week over a period of three months, says Alex Dimitriu, MD, founder of Menlo Park Psychiatry & Sleep Medicine.  

Other factors that can affect sleep, such as depression, anxiety, alcohol and substance use, or pain and medical problems, have to be absent to make a clear diagnosis of insomnia, Dimitriu says.

If you have addressed other possible medical conditions that can make it difficult to sleep, but still find that insomnia interferes with your daily life, a prescription or over-the-counter sleep aid could help get you back on track. 

Prescription sleeping pills, known as sedative hypnotics, fall into three categories:

  • Melatonin-receptor agonists, such as Rozerem and Hetlioz, target the melatonin receptors in the brain that are responsible for the body’s sleep-wake cycle. These drugs work by mimicking melatonin,  a naturally occurring hormone produced during sleep. Studies have shown melatonin-receptor agonists reduce the time it takes to fall asleep in both adult and elderly patients, with little evidence of side effects the next day or withdrawal symptoms upon stopping the medication.
  • Benzodiazepines, such as Valium and Xanax, target a brain chemical called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) that reduces nerve activity, relaxes muscles, and promotes sleep. However, they are not commonly prescribed to treat insomnia anymore, as they aren’t always effective and can be harmful if taken long-term. These drugs can be habit-forming, says Rajkumar Dasgupta, MD, assistant professor of clinical medicine at Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, and the risks often outweigh the benefits. 
  • Nonbenzodiazepines, such as Ambien or Lunesta, target GABA as well, but these drugs have a shorter half life than benzodiazepines, meaning they don’t last as long in the body. This results in a safer drug with less side effects than benzodiazepines, but also makes nonbenzodiazepines less effective at maintaining sleep throughout the night. 

Are sleeping pills safe? 

Sleeping pills are mostly safe, but they carry some known side effects, which can pose a risk to your health.  

For example, benzodiazepines and nonbenzodiazepines can cause daytime grogginess, which can increase the risk of falls or other accidents, Dasgupta says. Some nonbenzodiazepines are affiliated with dangerous and complex sleep-related behaviors, such as sleepwalking and sleep-driving.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) mandates label warnings on three nonbenzodiazepine drugs — eszopiclone, zaleplon and zolpidem — because of “rare but serious injuries and deaths” from sleep-walking or sleep-driving when taking these medications. According to the FDA, these drugs have been connected to 20 reported deaths and 46 non-fatal but serious injuries.

Overall, the safety and effectiveness of sleeping pills depends greatly on the individual. 

“I think this is where you have to tailor the medication with your physician to your situation,” Dasgupta says. “It really just depends on the person, everything else that’s going on, the options out there, and their medical history.

How to safely use sleeping pills

Sleeping pills are meant for you to take before a full night of sleep to reduce the risk of excessive grogginess the next day. However, sleeping pills, when used incorrectly or by a high-risk group can be extremely dangerous. 

Before seeking a sleep aid, here’s what you should know: 

  • If you’re over 65, consider the risks. People over age 65 are more sensitive to side effects from benzodiazepines, which can impair cognition, mobility and driving skills as well as increase the risk of falls in people over age 65. If you are an older adult, your doctor may prescribe a lower dose or suggest a drug with a shorter half-life to reduce your risk.
  • If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, be extra careful. Some studies have found that women who take benzodiazepines while pregnant put their unborn child at greater risk of physical defects at birth such as congenital heart disease. While some sleeping pills are considered safe while breastfeeding, others may not be, so discuss with your doctor. Some sleeping medications may decrease milk supply or can cause side effects in breastfed infants, like irritability. 
  • If you have kidney or liver disease, discuss with your doctor. Because these medications can be metabolized by the liver or kidneys, some sleeping pills may be more dangerous for people with kidney or liver disease. Research has shown that the antihistamine hydroxyzine is an effective sleep aid for people with liver disease, but use of a sleep aid in someone with kidney or liver disease should be monitored by a doctor. 
  • Don’t combine sleeping pills with other medications. Benzodiazepines can be particularly dangerous when combined with prescription painkillers, such as opioids, because both types of drugs can make it more difficult for you to breathe or cause you to stop breathing. 
  • Don’t combine sleeping pills with alcohol. This can increase the risk of abnormal sleeping behaviors, like sleepwalking, Dasgupta says. Moreover, alcohol can also make you feel tired, and when combined with a sleeping pill, that sedating effect is enhanced. This is a problem, because both drugs depress the central nervous system, slowing down your heart rate and respiratory system, and making it more difficult to breathe.
  • Take as directed. It is possible to overdose on sleep aids, so only use them as directed. According to a 2018 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics, opioids and benzodiazepines are two of the most commonly used drugs in overdose deaths. 

Common side effects of sleeping pills include headaches, prolonged drowsiness, problems with memory, and dizziness. 

If you notice these side effects, or more severe risks such as sleepwalking or next-day grogginess that impacts your ability to function, Dasgupta recommends stopping the medication and consulting your doctor.

Over-the-counter sleeping pills are safer, but also come with risks

Just because a sleeping pill is over-the-counter doesn’t necessarily mean it is safe, Dasgupta says. As with prescription sleep aids, factors like medical history, other medications you’re on, and underlying health conditions all contribute to how your body reacts to over-the-counter sleeping pills.

Most over-the-counter sleep aids, such as Unisom, ZzzQuil, and Sleepinal, contain antihistamines, which are typically used to treat allergy symptoms, but can also cause drowsiness. Histamine is produced in the brain and plays a role in helping you feel awake, so medications that interrupt histamine reception can result in sleepiness.

The antihistamine Benadryl, for example, contains an ingredient called diphenhydramine. Long-term use of diphenhydramine has been found to increase the risk of dementia. Moreover, just as with prescription sleep aids, you could become dependent on over-the-counter sleeping pills as well, like Benadryl or Unisom, Dasgupta says. 

Herbal supplements like Valerian root, chamomile, and melatonin can also help with sleep, though they are not regulated nor are they approved by the FDA.

The safest option for treating insomnia isn’t medication, but a type of therapy known as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), says David Cutler, MD, a family medicine physician at Providence Saint John’s Health Center. 

CBT helps you change thoughts and behaviors that may be contributing to your sleep problems, and it doesn’t come with common side effects of sleeping pills, like grogginess or abnormal sleep behaviors. Studies show that CBT reduces symptoms of insomnia and helps patients overcome the underlying causes of their sleep problems.

“The mind is very powerful,” Cutler says. “A lot of it really does come back to cognitive behavioral therapy, and using the power of the mind to help you be a better sleeper.”

Side Effects of Sleeping Pills – Are They Bad For You?

Medical Disclaimer: The content on this page should not be taken as medical advice or used as a recommendation for any specific medication. Always consult your doctor before taking any new medication or changing your current dosage.

 

Are you having trouble sleeping? Some people take sleeping pills to relieve short-term stress, jet lag, or another temporary issue that’s interfering with their sleep at night. Some sleep medications help you fall asleep, others help you stay asleep, and some do both.

But, are sleeping pills safe? Prescription sleeping medication can be habit-forming, and many side effects are undesirable. Therefore, it’s important to understand how they work and what side effects you can expect.

What Are the Side Effects of Sleep Medication?

Potential side effects vary by medication, but you may experience one or more of the following when taking sleeping pills:

  • Burning or tingling sensation in the hands, arms, feet, or legs
  • Change in appetite
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Drowsiness during the day
  • Dry mouth or throat
  • Gas
  • Headache
  • Heartburn
  • Nausea
  • Mental impairment the following day
  • Difficulty paying attention or remembering things
  • Stomach pain
  • Impaired balance
  • Uncontrollable shaking
  • Weird dreams or nightmares
  • Weakness

The “hangover” effect is one of the most common side effects of sleep medication like benzodiazepine hypnotics and zopiclone. This term refers to side effects like drowsiness, difficulty with balance or motor coordination, and impaired focus or memory.  80 percent of people taking prescription sleep aids report feeling at least one of these side effects the following day. For example, sleeping pills can impact your driving the morning after you take them.  These side effects can also negatively affect work performance, social relationships, and overall wellbeing and quality of life.

Are the Side Effects of Sleeping Pills Dangerous?

Depending on your particular situation, any of the above side effects can be dangerous, and some side effects should cause immediate concern. These include parasomnias, allergic reactions, and dependence or abuse of the medication.

Parasomnias

Parasomnia describes a number of unusual behaviors people experience while asleep, such as sleepwalking or wetting the bed. The most common parasomnias associated with sleep aids are sleep walking, sleep talking, sleep eating, and sleep driving. These behaviors can be more common with increased dosage, so it’s important to only take the medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor.

Allergic Reaction

As with any medication, you could also have an allergic reaction to sleeping pills. If you are having an allergic reaction, you may notice one or more of the following side effects. Stop taking the medication and see a doctor immediately.

  • Blurred vision
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Hives
  • Hoarseness
  • Irregular or pounding heartbeat
  • Itching
  • Nausea
  • Rash
  • Sensation of your throat closing up
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swelling up of your eyes, lips, face, tongue, or throat
  • Vomiting

Dependence

While most sleeping pills are designed just for short-term use (a number of weeks or less), some people may continue to use them on a longer-term basis. With longer-term use, you increase your risk of developing a tolerance. When this happens, some people end up increasing their dosage or abusing the sleeping pill, which results in more problematic side effects.

Sleeping pill addiction can cause side effects like impaired motor coordination, vertigo, inability to focus or remember things, and euphoria. It’s also possible to become psychologically dependent on the medication. You may develop anxiety or fear around falling asleep, and become worried that you won’t be able to fall asleep without the medication. Some people start combining the medication with alcohol, which is itself a sedative. The combination of these together is extremely dangerous, as your breathing may slow down to such an extent that it causes death.

Prolonged use can increase the intensity or frequency of side effects, and develop into dependence. This is why it’s important to stop taking the medication when your prescription ends. If your sleep issues persist, consult your doctor.

What Should I Do if I Experience Side Effects?

If you notice severe or dangerous side effects, consult your doctor immediately.

If you notice more mild side effects, you should still speak to your doctor as soon as possible. They may be able to suggest a lower dose, a different medication, or a plan for slowly weaning off the medication.

Know that rebound insomnia can occur when you stop using prescription sleep aids, especially if you stop cold-turkey. It can also happen as you’re gradually lowering your dosage. Rebound insomnia can feel even more frustrating than your original insomnia, as you may experience vivid dreams, nightmares, and anxiety. If you experience this, talk to your doctor. They may suggest lowering your dose more gradually.

Who Should Be Concerned About Sleep Medication?

Taking sleep medication is a decision that should always be considered carefully, and should involve  consulting a doctor first to help evaluate the risks and benefits. Some people may be more at risk when taking sleep medication. These include:

  • Individuals with chronic lung conditions like asthma, emphysema, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Some sleeping pills can slow your breathing and increase the risk of respiratory failure. Similarly, individuals with low blood pressure and arrhythmias should avoid taking sleep medication.
  • Individuals with liver or kidney disease. These conditions affect the body’s metabolism, which in turn may affect how long the sleeping pill stays in your system, leading to more daytime impairment and drowsiness.
  • Pregnant or breast-feeding women. Some sleeping medications have been linked to depression, impaired memory, and loss of motor coordination to greater extents in pregnant women. Doctors may advise avoiding these altogether. If medication is required, doctors may prescribe it in lower doses.
  • Older adults. Research indicates older adults are more likely to experience the side effects of sleeping pills, especially dizziness, lightheadedness, impaired balance, confusion, and sedation. These can increase their risk of falling or getting injured. If sleep medication is required, doctors may prescribe a lower dose to mediate their risk.
  • Individuals taking other medications. Prescription drugs and over-the-counter medication can negatively interact with sleeping pills, which may increase your risk of experiencing side effects. If you’re taking other medications or supplements, be sure to discuss this with your doctor prior to starting sleeping medication.

Questions To Ask Your Doctor About Sleep Aids and Side Effects

If you are considering taking sleep medication, always consult your doctor and explain your situation in detail. Tell them what kind of sleep issues you’ve been having, when they started, and how frequently you experience them. This information can help them prescribe an appropriate treatment plan to relieve your sleep issues.

Regarding medication side effects, consider asking your doctor these questions:

  • Are there other things in my life that could be contributing to my sleep issues, such as stress, diet, exercise, or a poor sleep environment?
  • What types of sleep medication would be safe for me?
  • How often should I take this medication, and at what time of day?
  • How should I take the medication? Should I drink water or eat food at the same time, or before?
  • Are there any activities I should avoid after taking the medication, such as driving?
  • How long should I take this medication?
  • Is there a generic version I can take that may be more affordable?
  • What side effects can I expect from this medication?
  • What side effects should I be concerned about, or cause me to stop taking the medication?
  • Are there any food or substances I should avoid when taking this medication, like alcohol or grapefruit?

If your doctor recommends a sleep aid, always read the sleeping pill’s medication guide to make sure you fully understand the risks and potential side effects. Only take it as prescribed by your doctor, and only when you have time to get a full night’s sleep to minimize side effects the next day.

If you’re consistently having trouble falling or staying asleep, talk to your doctor. Behavior and lifestyle changes, in addition to cognitive behavioral therapy, can help. If an underlying issue is behind insomnia, be it a health condition or a sleep disorder, treating that can resolve or improve your insomnia.

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The Dangers Of Sleeping Pills

If you’re having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, your doctor may end up prescribing you sleeping pills. While these pills can have obvious benefits and may help you get better sleep at night, there are a number of sleeping pill side effects that can have a negative impact on your physical and mental health. In many cases, it can be better to treat the underlying cause, such as a medical condition or sleep disorder, which can be a much more effective approach than just treating the symptom of insomnia itself.

The use of prescription sleep aids is prevalent in the United States. In fact, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, about four percent of adults use prescription sleeping pills each month. Moreover, about 50 to 70 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders and deprivation.

While these sleep issues can cause many problems for daily functioning and can adversely affect someone’s health, prescription medications can also lead to dangerous health consequences if not used properly. It is important to understand the differences between sleeping pills and the adverse health consequences associated with them.

What Is Insomnia?

Those who are prescribed sleeping pills are likely suffering from some type of sleep-related problem, the most notable of which is insomnia.

Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that can make it hard to fall asleep and stay asleep. Unfortunately for those dealing with the problem, it can cause lethargy and a decline in energy level and mood that may, in turn, affect your health, work performance, and quality of life.

There is both short-term and long-term insomnia that can last for days or weeks and last for a month or more, respectively.

Causes

There are a number of potential causes that could be the root of the problem. Chronic insomnia can result due to a number of different reasons. Some common causes of insomnia include:

Stress — Stress is a major cause of insomnia. Problems at work, school, health, finances, and more can cause your mind to stay alert which can make it difficult to sleep. Moreover, stressful life events and trauma, like the death of a family member, can lead to insomnia.

Mental Disorders — There are many mental and psychiatric disorders that can be causing issues like insomnia. For example, depression may be the cause of someone’s poor sleep. Similarly, anxiety disorders may be keeping someone up at night.

Poor Sleep Habits — Having an unhealthy sleep schedule, taking too many naps, watching television, using a smartphone before bed, and more can all make it difficult to fall and stay asleep.

Eating Too Much — Some people make the common mistake of eating too much before bed. While a small snack is fine, overeating can make you feel physically uncomfortable while lying down. Many people may experience heartburn and other issues that can keep them awake.

Types of Sleeping Pills

There are a number of prescription, over-the-counter, and natural forms of sleep aid options for those who are suffering from sleep-related issues such as insomnia.

Antihistamines — Most over-the-counter sleep aids contain antihistamines. Antihistamines are known to significantly increase daytime sleepiness and nighttime sleep quality.

Diphenhydramine — Diphenhydramine is a sedating antihistamine. There are a number of popular forms of this drug such as Benadryl, Aleve PM, and more. There are many potentially harmful side effects associated with diphenhydramine including dry mouth, nose, and throat, drowsiness, nausea, vomiting, chest congestion, nervousness, and more. The problem can eventually become serious if you or a loved one experiences vision problems or painful urination call a doctor immediately.

Doxylamine Succinate — Like diphenhydramine, doxylamine succinate is a sedating antihistamine used to help with nighttime sleep efforts. Like most other sleeping pills, doxylamine can cause many side effects including drowsiness, headaches, nausea, nervousness, and more

Melatonin — Melatonin is a hormone in the body that helps to control your natural sleep cycle and circadian rhythm. Melatonin supplements can be helpful in treating issues like jet lag and can help minimize and reduce the time it takes to fall asleep. While the effects of melatonin are mild, it can still lead to a number of different side effects including headaches and daytime sleepiness.

Valerian — Valerian is an herbal supplement that can help you fall asleep for those with insomnia. Valerian is a tall, flowering plant that can reduce the time it takes to fall asleep and help you get better sleep quality. There are a number of different side effects that can occur from taking valerian. For example, headaches, dizziness, stomach problems, sleeplessness all can come from using this type of sleep aid.

Whatever type of sleeping aid that you may be using, it is important to learn more about what specific substances you are putting in your body as it may cause harmful side effects that can interfere with mental and physical health abilities.

Sleeping Pills Side Effects

Despite how helpful these medications can be, many sleep aids, such as antihistamines, carry a number of risks. It is best to discuss with a doctor or medical professional if these are safe options.

Sleeping pills can lead to a number of problems and can impact or worsen health conditions such as kidney disease, low blood pressure, problems with heart rhythm, and seizures.

One study published in Sleep Disorders research journal looked into the residual effects of sleep medication for insomnia patients. Residual effects were reported by about 80 percent of individuals who were using prescription sleep medication. Moreover, those who experienced residual sleep medication effects showed addition problems with medical comorbidities.

Moreover, sometimes people use sleeping pills along with other medications or substances, such as alcohol.

Sleeping Pills and Alcohol

Alcohol is one of the most harmful substances for the body. It affects nearly every organ and can lead to a number of different issues and chronic illnesses, including cancer. Unfortunately, many people end up drinking while using other substances like prescription pills, including sleeping medication. The use of sleeping medication and alcohol can lead to a number of different problems and symptoms including drowsiness, sleepiness, dizziness, slowed or difficulty breathing, impaired motor control, memory problems, and more.

There are a number of risks associated with sleeping pills, especially for those taking sleeping pills many days in a row. One of the biggest risks is that you may start to depend on them and it may even cause dependence.

Dependence

According to a New York Times article, sleeping pills can be habit-forming. In fact, people who take them but stop suddenly can show signs of psychological dependence and may feel a desire or urge to continue to take them. Unfortunately, for people who stop taking the medication, insomnia can return. This is why it is so important to find other behavioral treatments and positive sleep hygiene strategies to help improve sleep-related problems.

For those who have built a dependence or tolerance to sleeping pills, medication will have to be withdrawn and the patient will have to taper off the medication slowly over a period of a few weeks in order to reduce any psychological dependence and withdrawal symptoms of the drug.

Sleeping Tips

While sleeping aids, if used properly, can be helpful in falling asleep faster and sleeping longer, there are a number of other ways, more natural ways to get better sleep. Forming healthy sleep habits could eliminate the need for someone to use sleeping aids and can even make therapy unnecessary. Some healthy sleep habits that can be beneficial to form include:

Follow A Schedule — One of the easiest ways that you can improve your sleep and get good quality sleep is to create a sleep/wake schedule for yourself and stick to it. Go to sleep and get up at the same time each day, even on the weekends or while you are on vacation. This will work to get your circadian rhythm back working correctly.

Avoid Late-Day Naps — Napping late in the day like in the late afternoon or evening can interfere with your ability to fall and stay asleep. While naps can help to keep you fresh and renewed, just make sure that you aren’t taking them too often and you aren’t taking them too late in the day as it may keep you up late at night.

Create A Bedtime Routine — There are many relaxing bedtime things that you can do right before you fall asleep to easier induce sleep. For example, doing things like reading a book, listening to relaxing music, or taking a bath can all help you calm your mind and your body down and improve your ability to fall and stay asleep.

Avoid Screens — While technology can be nice, it is important that you limit your time in front of screens as it can interfere with your ability to fall asleep. Using television, your computer, or your phone before you go to bed can make it difficult for you to fall asleep. Moreover, movies that are unnerving, like scary movies, can keep you awake at night.

Don’t Use Alcohol — Alcohol is one substance that can make sleeping a problem. While alcohol may be able to help induce sleep, it can get in the way of staying asleep. Alcohol can lead to a multitude of health issues and can cause addiction. Luckily there are many resources available to help you learn how to stop drinking. Programs like 12-step and treatment centers can help you overcome these issues.

While sleeping pills can be an effective way to avoid sleep-related issues, there are many other options that may prove to be safer and more cost-effective. For example, counseling and therapy may be a great option.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is an option for those dealing with problems like insomnia. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, CBT usually works at least as well as sleeping pills and it doesn’t carry the same risks. Most people sleep better with CBT and can learn better sleep habits including creating a sleep schedule, quitting TV before bed, and learning how to calm the mind when you’re trying to fall asleep.

Moreover, CBT may even cost less than sleeping pills. While pills may only cost up to $60 a week, it will be a continuous cost. Whereas, CBT may only take six one-hour sessions.

If the problem is severe enough, you may even want to see a sleep physician for a sleep study in which your body is observed as you sleep. A sleep study will help identify any specific health problems, such as sleep apnea, you may have that could be interfering with your ability to fall asleep.

However you choose to improve your sleep length and quality, just be sure that it is something that you are prioritizing. Getting quality sleep is important for your physical and mental health.

Next Steps

Sleep is an incredibly important body function that helps regulate things like stress and fatigue. However, many people across the United States have problems falling and staying asleep which can cause many issues with a person’s mental and physical health. Because of this, many people turn to sleep aids and supplements to help induce sleep. With that said, these types of medications and pills can lead to harmful side effects that can also be problematic for someone’s health. In some cases, it can lead to dependence while others may be mixing these sleep medications with other substance like alcohol which can prove to be a dangerous combination.

If you or a loved one is mixing substances like sleeping pills and alcohol, it may be best to look for a treatment center that can help your loved one overcome whatever substance abuse issues they may be dealing with. Landmark Recovery is one organization that can help through the use of medical detoxification, inpatient treatment, and an intensive outpatient program. If you are interested in learning more about what Landmark can offer, please visit our website and reach out to our Indiana treatment center admissions team today.

About the Author

Landmark Recovery Staff

This post was written by a Landmark Recovery staff member. If you have any questions, please contact us at 888-448-0302.

Jul 15, 2019

Posted in:
Drug

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Are Sleeping Pills Safe? Here’s What Research Says

According to the latest numbers, roughly 9 million Americans — 4% of U.S. adults — use prescription sleep aids, or medications that can help with insomnia and other sleep issues. And now, some of the most popular prescription sleep drugs must carry stronger safety warnings.

In April, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) mandated black-box warnings — which the agency uses to “call attention to serious or life-threatening risks” — on three sedative-hypnotic sleep aids: eszopiclone (often sold under the brand name Lunesta), zaleplon (Sonata) and zolpidem (Ambien). Hypnotic drugs, which are used to prompt or maintain sleep, have been connected to 20 reported deaths and 46 non-fatal but serious injuries, according to the FDA.

Injuries included accidental overdoses, falls and near-drownings, while deaths were caused by carbon monoxide poisoning, hypothermia, car accidents, apparent suicide and more, the FDA said. “While these incidents are rare, they are serious and it’s important that patients and health care professionals are aware of the risk,” acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Ned Sharpless said in a statement.

Here’s what the research says about the safety — and potential dangers — of prescription sleep aids.

Sleeping pills have well-documented side effects

The side effects of sleeping pills vary by medication, but they can include dizziness, headache, gastrointestinal issues, prolonged drowsiness, allergic reactions, memory problems and performing daily activities while partially asleep, according to the Mayo Clinic. Case studies, including one published in 2017 and another in 2013, have also linked using zolpidem to suicidal behavior, potentially even during sleep. Alcohol or other prescription drugs can also interact poorly with sleeping pills, potentially leading to more side effects or complications.

While most people who take prescription sleeping pills do not experience major issues, the FDA has been concerned about their side effects for years. In 2013, it recommended lower bedtime doses of zolpidem in an effort to cut down on issues like next-morning drowsiness (which can contribute to car accidents and more). That announcement did not specifically address dangerous mid-sleep behaviors, which reports say have included driving, using the stove and even committing crimes or acting violently. (Blaming illegal or erratic behavior on sleep drugs is often called the “Ambien defense,” which was memorably used by comedian Roseanne Barr after she posted a racist tweet in 2018.)

Sleep drugs have been linked to life-threatening conditions

A 2012 study linked the use of hypnotic sleep aids — including zolpidem, eszopiclone, zaleplon and others — to a higher risk of early death, even if people were prescribed fewer than 18 pills a year. People who were prescribed the most hypnotics were 35% more likely than people who didn’t use them to develop a new cancer after about 2.5 years of follow-up, the researchers found.

The study only showed associations, not cause and effect. But it bolstered the idea that people should avoid taking sleep aids every night or for prolonged periods of time, if possible. A 2018 research review also concluded that “hypnotics are related to serious illnesses and premature deaths from cancer, serious infections [most commonly of the upper-respiratory system], mood disorders, accidental injuries, suicides and homicides.”

Sleeping pills may be habit-forming

The authors of one paper published in 2001 warned that “any agent used to induce sleep can result in a dependence on that agent to induce sleep,” potentially making it difficult to drift off without medication or requiring a higher dose to achieve the same effects. Some users may even experience withdrawal if they stop taking sleep drugs, according to the Addiction Center. (Over-the-counter aids like melatonin and those containing diphenhydramine, like Benadryl, can come with similar risks, according to Consumer Reports.) This risk is particularly high for people who use sleeping pills every night, which further underscores that occasional use is preferable to nightly consumption.

But it’s possible to take them responsibly

While it’s impossible to definitively say who will experience side effects after taking sleep aids, there are ways to reduce the risk. People should learn the possible side effects and medication interactions before starting a new drug and follow their doctor’s instructions when taking sleep aids. The Mayo Clinic also recommends not mixing alcohol with sleep drugs and only taking them just before a full night of sleep to reduce the risk of side effects and dangerous behavior.

And instead of depending on sleep aids, people should try to address underlying stressors or health issues that may be contributing to sleep disorders. For better sleep, experts recommend minimizing screen and technology use at night, sleeping and waking at the same time every day and practicing relaxing behaviors, like reading or journaling, before bed.

More Must-Read Stories From TIME


Write to Jamie Ducharme at [email protected]

Types, Side Effects & Treatment

What are sleeping pills?

As the name suggests, sleeping pills help you catch some sleep. People who have sleep disorders like insomnia may take these medications to help them fall asleep. Sleeping medicines can also help you stay asleep if you’re prone to waking up in the middle of the night.

What are other names for sleeping pills?

Sleeping pills go by many names:

  • Hypnotics.
  • Sedatives.
  • Sleep aids.
  • Sleep medicine.
  • Tranquilizers.

How do sleeping pills work?

There are various types of sleeping pills. Each works differently. Some sleep aids cause drowsiness, while others silence the area of the brain that keeps you alert.

How effective are sleeping pills?

Studies show that sleeping pills aren’t that helpful in promoting a good night’s rest. Most people who take sleep aids fall asleep about eight to 20 minutes faster than those without medicine. On average, you might get an additional 35 minutes of shuteye.

Generally, sleep aids should be for short-term use. They may be most helpful if a stressful life event, such as a divorce or death in the family, is keeping you awake.

Who might need sleeping pills?

An estimated one in seven Americans have long-term insomnia. Sleep difficulties become more common as you age. Approximately one in three older people take some type of sleep medicine.

What are the types of over-the-counter (OTC) sleeping pills?

Any adult can buy OTC sleep medications at a store. OTC sleep aids often contain an antihistamine. This drug treats allergies, but it can also make you drowsy.

Some people take melatonin or valerian supplements to help them sleep. Melatonin is a hormone your body naturally produces that promotes sleep. Valerian is an herb that supposedly aids relaxation and sleep.

Although these sleep aids are easily accessible, you should check with your healthcare provider before taking them. Drugs in over-the-counter sleep aids (including supplements) can interfere with other medications or make health conditions worse.

What are the types of prescription sleeping pills?

Prescription sleeping pills are stronger than over-the-counter ones. You need a prescription from your healthcare provider to get these pills.

Types of prescription sleeping pills include:

What are the potential side effects of sleeping pills?

Approximately eight out of 10 people experience a hangover effect the day after taking sleep medicine. They feel drowsy, have muddled thinking and experience dizziness or balance problems. These daytime effects can negatively impact your ability to drive, work, go to school and complete daily tasks.

Over-the-counter and prescription sleeping pills (and supplements) can cause these side effects:

What are the potential risks or complications of sleeping pills?

When you take sleeping medicines night after night, your body may start to depend on them. When you stop the medicine, your insomnia may come back worse than before. This effect is called rebound insomnia.

If you’ve used sleep aids for a long time, talk to your healthcare provider about how to stop safely. It may take months to stop taking the pills.

You also shouldn’t mix sleep aids with other sedatives or alcohol. There’s a possibility of overdosing.

What are the potential risks or complications of prescription sleeping pills?

Some prescription sleep medicines may bring on parasomnia. This disruptive sleep disorder can cause dangerous behaviors while you’re still mostly asleep. People who take Z-drugs, in particular, may sleepwalk or eat, take medications, talk or even drive, all while unaware that they’re doing these things. You may appear to be awake, but your brain is not fully alert. Most people don’t remember doing these things after they wake up.

Benzodiazepines can be addictive and lead to substance abuse. To lower this risk, healthcare providers only prescribe these sleeping pills for short-term use. You’re more likely to get a prescription for Z-drugs instead.

Are sleeping pills safe during pregnancy?

Any medication you take while pregnant or breastfeeding passes to the baby. Check with your healthcare provider before taking any over-the-counter sleeping pills or supplements. For extreme insomnia, a provider may prescribe a short-term sleep aid.

Are sleeping pills safe for children?

Some parents give over-the-counter antihistamine medications to children to help them sleep. These medicines aren’t approved for sleep purposes. There’s a risk of overdosing a child.

Don’t give a child supplements like melatonin. There’s no research on their safety in children.

Currently, there are no prescription sleep medicines available for children. Changing a child’s sleep behaviors is often the best way to improve sleep.

How can I sleep better without sleeping pills?

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is an effective tool for improving sleep and curing insomnia. Behavioral changes often improve sleep without the need for medications.

You may want to:

  • Avoid large meals and alcohol before bed.
  • Cut back on caffeine, including coffee, sodas and chocolate, throughout the day and especially before bedtime.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Relax with soothing music, a good book or meditation.
  • Shut off electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
  • Stay physically active during the day. Try to get outside, if possible.
  • Stick to a sleep schedule (same bedtime and wake-up time) even on weekends.
  • Turn your bedroom into a dark, quiet and cool sanctuary.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

You should contact your healthcare provider if you are taking sleeping pills and experience:

  • Chronic fatigue.
  • Confusion or memory issues.
  • Parasomnia behaviors.
  • Problems focusing or completing tasks like driving.
  • Severe upset stomach.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Staring at the clock or tossing and turning is no way to spend your nights. Still, you should talk to your healthcare provider before trying an over-the-counter sleep aid. A prescription sleeping pill may be a better choice. Often, nondrug treatments and behavioral changes are all you need for improved slumber. Your healthcare provider can figure out what’s causing your insomnia and suggest the best plan to help you rest easier.

90,000 Taking sleeping pills brings death closer – Kommersant FM – Kommersant

Experts at the California Sleep Center have found that when taking sleeping pills, even twice a month, the risk of premature death increases several times. It is really not worth abusing such drugs, doctors say, it is important to first identify the cause of insomnia.

Sleeping pills lead to premature death. The risk of dying with these drugs quadruples.This conclusion was made by scientists from the California Sleep Center. According to them, everyone who takes sleep pills at least twice a month is at risk. Plus, taking a lot of sleeping pills increases your chances of getting cancer by 35%.

The systematic intake of such drugs is indeed very dangerous, noted Galina Kholmogorova, a leading researcher at the Research Center for Preventive Medicine.

“Addictiveness arises, and a person must constantly increase the dose, then artificial sleep with sleeping pills is not the same as natural sleep: some sleep phases are switched off there, so these sleeping pills must be selected individually, depending on the state, and most importantly – before than to rush to sleeping pills, you need to establish the cause of insomnia, try to eliminate it without medication, ”she said.

–– For example, in patients with cardiopulmonary diseases, especially with pulmonary diseases, a hypnotic can act on the respiratory center and depress it. This can increase the possibility of death. “

Researchers estimate that taking sleeping pills causes up to 500,000 deaths in the United States each year. 10% of American adults regularly take these medications. In Russia, this problem is not so urgent, said the chief narcologist of Moscow Yevgeny Brun.

“We are dealing with an addiction to sleeping pills, but this is not the main topic.Rarely and, as a rule, in old age, such dependence occurs. Rather, it is a psychiatric problem. Nobody selects especially these drugs, doctors, as a rule, dismiss such patients. Indeed, a similar problem exists. Once upon a time, several years ago, maybe decades, it was possible to buy tranquilizers like phenazepam on the free market, now you cannot buy them anywhere. Therefore, the proportion of such dependent people is small, “he noted.

American scientists note that sleeping pills increase the risk of death in various ways.So, medications can cause depression and lead a person to suicide. They also affect the reaction rate, increasing the chances of getting into an accident. In addition, sleeping pills make people eat more at night, which leads to obesity.

Daria Zlotnikova

Why sleeping pills are harmful to health

Taking sleeping pills actually has a significant effect on the human body, writes “Country of Health”.

See also: 5 foods that will help you fall asleep

What is the harm from sleeping pills

People who regularly get stress have insomnia.Many people believe that it is better to fight insomnia in a faster and more affordable way – to take sleeping pills.

However, as American scientists have found out, their regular use can cause addiction in just two weeks. Therefore, using this kind of medication, a person in exchange for a healthy sleep gets addiction, which is compared to alcohol.

Sleeping pills are very dangerous for the body / Photo pexels

In addition, there is another quite noticeable side effect – a significant decrease in brain performance the next day after taking sleeping pills.

Why sleeping pills are dangerous

Long-term effects of sleeping pills, which also negatively affect the body, notes Narcomedcenter.

Tolerance

You may need to constantly increase your sleeping pills to get to sleep.

Parasomnia

Some scientists believe that sleeping pills suppress REM sleep. Because of this, people begin to walk, drive cars, and may even commit criminal acts in their sleep.

Strange behavior

Your relatives or close friends notice strange behavior.And you may have suicidal and depressive thoughts.

Sleeping pills cause addiction in two weeks / Photo pexels

How to stop falling asleep with sleeping pills

  • Go to bed later . Determine the average time to fall asleep and add 30 minutes.
  • A new hour to relax. Complete all morning missions in the evening, this will help you not to fuss in the morning and not to worry at night.
  • Complete tasks that have been put off for a long time. Perhaps they are the ones who haunt you at night.
  • Evening Routine to help prepare your body for sleep. Take the same sequential steps every day to prepare your mind and body for rest. For example, taking a warm bath before bed can help you relax.
  • The bed is a place to sleep. Many people allow themselves to watch a movie, read books, and even work in bed. Because of this, our brain gets used to the fact that in bed you can do everything except sleep. There should be only bedding in bed.
  • Meditate .

Recommendations that will improve sleep

  • Observe the regimen.
  • Sleep as much as necessary to feel refreshed (7 – 8).
  • Do not drink coffee or other caffeinated beverages after lunch.
  • Do not use laptops, tablets, smartphones, e-books before bed. Also, do not fall asleep under the TV light.

When you can and cannot drink sleeping pills

Any sleeping pill is a medicine, so doubts about whether to take pills are natural.Some people need chamomile tea and lavender scent to fall asleep, others need prescription drugs.

We do not touch upon the cases when medications are prescribed by a doctor, because everything is clear here: both the dosage regimen, and why and how to take medications.

Let’s figure out how to deal with sleeping pills, which are sold without a prescription and are available to everyone.

When sleeping pills should not be taken

Sleeping pills have many side effects, even those made with herbal ingredients.Therefore, the trip for the pill should be postponed for an emergency. You should definitely not indulge in sleep drugs if you have not done the preparation.

You have not studied the drug

First of all, you should not drink sleeping pills if you have not read the instructions, especially the section “Contraindications”. Or read, but did not understand anything. Or understood, but not sure that this is not about you.

First make sure you can take this medicine at all. It is advisable to do this even at the pharmacy or before going to it (instructions are on the Internet), because any medicine has side effects .

You have already drunk something else to relax

If you need to fall asleep here and now, you cannot and have already tried to relax with a glass of wine or other alcohol, then you should not drink pills.

Sleeping pills affect the nervous system, alcohol does the same. What happens to you if you mix these ingredients? Perhaps nothing, and perhaps nothing good, and this option is more likely.

By the way, sleeping pills are also not always combined with other drugs.If you regularly take any medications for chronic diseases, then any supplements should be discussed with your doctor.

You are driving

Some sleeping pills reduce concentration, inhibit the reaction, and the effect persists after you wake up. Driving while sleepy is just as dangerous as being sleepy. If you do not sleep well, give up the driver’s seat to someone else or use public transport.

You haven’t tried to get some sleep

Sleep pills are always the last resort.Rest is vital. If you can’t get enough sleep, you need to grab onto medications.

But sleeping on pills is still different from healthy sleep. Regular use of sleeping pills is an exceptional measure until the normal sleep cycle is restored .

Therefore, first you need to arrange all the conditions for a good sleep. We wrote how to overcome insomnia, use these tips. Briefly:

  • Set the mode, go to bed at the same time.
  • An hour before bed – no gadgets and no work.
  • Walk outside before going to bed.
  • Make your bedroom comfortable to sleep: dark, cool, quiet. Buy a comfortable mattress and pillow.
  • Play sports to keep you physically tired.
  • Do not use stimulants such as coffee.

You haven’t tried to relax

Stand in the shower and sing a song, read a nice (or boring) book, ask your loved ones to give you a massage or do some simple yoga asanas, listen to the rustle from the ASMR channel.Remember that there is chamomile tea with lemon balm and even cookies in the world.

First find other ways to shut down.

When you can take sleeping pills

Without sleep, a person cannot live longer than a few days, there is no need to wait for a critical situation. Sometimes sleeping pills are needed.

You just need to get through this night

Usually you sleep without problems, but tomorrow is such an important day that you cannot close your eyes. Or the past day was so busy that you cannot calm down and relax.

Why torment yourself now, suffer from lack of sleep tomorrow, when you can take a pill and fall asleep? Of course, such cases do not happen every day, or even every week.

You are struggling with jetlag

Do not take sleeping pills before the flight so as not to fall asleep too deep in the sky. And when you have landed and are suffering from jet lag, you can use the pill.

Nothing else helps you

If you have furnished a perfect bedroom, forgot about the existence of coffee, took a warm bath with lavender after an evening run and perfectly mastered shavasana, but you cannot sleep, you need to help yourself with medicines.

But this is a signal that sleep problems are deeply hidden, you need to go to the doctor.

It’s just that sleep does not disappear, perhaps the body signals an illness. Contact a neurologist or psychotherapist who will treat the cause, then insomnia will go away by itself.

Addiction to sleeping pills: why sleep pills are unsafe

At the moment, there are 3 groups of hypnotics in pharmacy: benzodiazepine derivatives, barbituric acid derivatives (barbiturates) and cyclopyrrolone derivatives, as well as other chemical groups.

Benzodiazepine derivatives

These drugs enhance the effect of the neurotransmitter GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), which slows down brain activity, thereby helping people fall asleep faster and rest longer. Due to the sedative, muscle relaxant (muscle relaxation) and hypnotic effects, benzodiazepines are widely used to improve sleep and treat nervous disorders.

Gidazepam IC is a prominent representative of benzodiazepine derivatives.It is a prescription drug that works when taken for a short period of up to 2 weeks.

Long-term use of benzodiazepines can lead to a number of side effects, among which there is a decrease in the duration of deep sleep and gradual addiction to the drug, which is why people can increase the dose on their own, which is unsafe for health.

Barbituric acid derivatives

They have a depressing effect on the central nervous system of a person and thereby help him to quickly go to sleep.Currently, hypnotic barbiturates are not used as widely as they used to be. The reason for this is the addiction to barbiturates and the large list of side effects.

Signs of barbiturate abuse:

  • erratic behavior, mood swings;
  • anxiety, anxiety;
  • having difficulty concentrating;
  • falsification of prescriptions for the purchase of a drug;
  • the onset of a depressive state;
  • brief memory loss;
  • redness, skin inflammation, rash;
  • aggressive behavior.

The most popular drug from the barboval group is Barboval, and the most dangerous and not recommended for use is Phenobarbital.

Derivatives of cyclopyrrolone and other chemical groups

This includes all other hypnotics not classified as benzodiazepine derivatives and barbiturates. Their main active ingredients can be:

  • zopiclone;
  • methaqualone;
  • zolpidem;
  • doxylamine;
  • brominated;
  • vita-melatonin.

These drugs act in a similar way to benzodiazepine derivatives, increasing the level of the neurotransmitter GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). This, in turn, reduces brain activity, causing drowsiness.

Rather than targeting several receptors in the brain like benzodiazepines, the drugs in question only target a few of them and therefore cause fewer side effects. However, there have been cases where taking these drugs led to memory loss and fatigue the next day.

The name of the sleeping pills of this group:

To drink derivatives of cyclopirrolone and other chemical groups with problems with sleep should be no more than 14 days and strictly according to the doctor’s prescription.

“Getting enough sleep is useless” Somnologist about proper sleep and sleeping pills: People: From life: Lenta.ru

Sleep problems were of interest to ancient scientists. Over the past half century, a whole science of sleep has been singled out – somnology. Despite this, many still argue about how much to sleep, and about the existence of “owls” and “larks”.”Lenta.ru” and “Beeline” asked the doctor of biological sciences, Vladimir Kovalzon, seven questions on which there is still a dispute.

Vladimir Kovalzon – Chairman of the Somnology Section of the Physiological Society named after Pavlova, Chief Researcher at the Institute of Ecology and Evolution. Severtsov.

Sleep is not a loss of consciousness, but a transition of the brain to another state. The brain still remains active, but in its own way. This activity is associated with the restoration of various functions of the body, the nature of which is still incomprehensible to us.Actually, we, physiologists-somnologists, as well as molecular biologists, biochemists and other specialists are studying what exactly rest is and why we feel rested after a good sleep in the morning.

The science of somnology was born in 1963, and during these half a century much more knowledge has been accumulated than in previous centuries, but still much remains to be discovered. As for slow-wave sleep, the contours of the future theory are more or less emerging (which genes are tied to this, which hormones are released, how the brain switches).

The phase of REM sleep remains completely incomprehensible – it is in it that we see dreams – in which we spend two hours every night. A huge number of works have been devoted to it, but the main question still remains: how this phase appeared in evolution and why it is needed. For example, cold-blooded animals do not have dreams (only warm-blooded animals). At the same time, there is a state of slow sleep – even in fruit flies.

In addition, there are lucid dreams – these are not inventions of wizards, but a scientifically proven fact.”Lenta.ru” wrote about this phenomenon (spoiler: there are stories about meeting in dreams with Bruce Lee and flying over garages).

Sleep is not a single process. This is a cycle in which there are two phases: slow (dreamless sleep) and REM sleep. They are completely opposite and strictly alternate in a certain order. With eight hours of sleep, we have five cycles per night – enough to get enough sleep. Accordingly, our third state is wakefulness. And different structures of the brain are responsible for each stage, different events occur in the body.Any other state – for example, hypnosis, meditation – is not a dream, but only a state of altered consciousness.

The need for sleep is dictated exclusively by our genes. Each has its own. Unfortunately, few people know this. And for some problems with sleep, they turn to the wrong specialists – to neurologists, psychiatrists. And only a doctor-somnologist can help. Other doctors, as a rule, understand little about sleep disorders, and their advice is often incompetent.

It is conditionally possible to divide people into three groups: “larks” (they lead the morning way of life), “pigeons” (the majority of such people – they are awake both in the morning and in the evening), “owls” (active at night).And you can’t change them in any way. As there are people who eat a lot and do not gain weight, but there are overweight people who are on diets, but are overweight. This is pure genetics.

Most people have five sleep cycles, that is, they need eight hours of sleep, while some need at least six cycles. There are also lucky ones for whom four cycles are enough. Adequate number of hours of sleep can be determined simply: if you get enough sleep in a certain period, then this is enough for you.

A good sleep is not only pleasant, but also beneficial.From March 27 to December 31, all Beeline subscribers can take part in the Gigi for Sleep campaign and receive free megabytes for a full eight-hour sleep. More details on the site.

By and large, a person can lead any way of life. There is nothing wrong with working at night and sleeping during the day. If you are used to this rhythm, it is better not to change it, it will be very stressful for the body.

Getting enough sleep for the future is useless. But without sleep, you can spend no more than a day without harm to health.But in principle, a person simply cannot stand more than two or three nights without sleep. In general, chronic lack of sleep is very dangerous: metabolic processes and cognitive functions are impaired.

Sleep hygiene is the main problem of modern people. It is advisable to immediately contact a specialist in case of sleep disturbance, so you can identify a serious illness at an early stage.

With age, some people sleep less in time, but this only means that this number of cycles is enough for them.The main thing is that if you feel sleepy, then everything is in order.

For night sleep, which is associated with cycles, phases and stages, you need maximum comfort. But there is such a paradoxical thing: naps, even very short naps, often have a good effect. In the USA, some large companies arrange special lounges for clerks in which they can rest for 10-15 minutes during a break. This time is enough to improve the functioning of the body. Of course, everything is individual, but for many people, daytime sleep has a very positive effect.

However, it is still impossible without adequate sleep. For example, in an airplane seat or on the seat of a night bus, you will not get enough sleep. In this position, you will not experience REM sleep, because the body cannot completely relax, it controls so that you do not fall off. But on the train, in a horizontal position, you can easily sleep.

With all the benefits of daytime sleep, it is not recommended to sleep more than 45 minutes, otherwise the biological rhythm will fail, and in the evening you simply will not fall asleep.And at night you still need to get the number of cycles you need.

Combining a useful eight-hour sleep and gifts is easy – just click on the button in the special application “My Beeline”. After pressing “I am going to sleep”, the countdown begins. The application cannot be closed during sleep. Depending on your tariff, thanks to participation in the “Gigi for Sleep” promotion, you can receive either free megabytes or one hour of free internet distribution every day. Learn how to take part in the #spinAll Healthy Sleep Marathon.

Do not gorge on before bed. But it is also not recommended for the hungry to fall asleep – otherwise you can provoke excessive motility in the intestines. The British have a term called night time beverage – a glass of warm milk with cornflakes. It is very useful for normalizing sleep.

If we are talking about taking melatonin, that is subtlety: it is effective only in very small doses. The dosage currently available in pharmacies is ineffective in most cases.You need 0.1-0.3 milligrams, and we sell at 3 milligrams. And what happens: when you receive such a high dose, the body starts processes that destroy it. It does not help against insomnia and jet lag. The hormone melatonin is not produced.

But it continues to be used in large quantities. Advertising only contributes to this. In the USA, for example, there are pills of 50 milligrams, even 100 milligrams! Although melatonin does not have toxic doses, it can cause hormonal disruption, so you need to be very careful with it.It is best that it is produced naturally – for this it is advisable to fall asleep in complete darkness.

My colleagues say that the task of a sleep doctor is to keep the patient from taking sleeping pills until the very last minute. It is more harmful than a bad dream. And until now, there is no perfect sleeping pill that can be recommended to everyone. All such drugs are very harmful, they can cause memory impairment, speech impairment. They can act at an unexpected moment.

But the brain loves caffeine.So a few cups throughout the day are good for you. But not before bed, of course.

If you suffer from insomnia – read about the results of our experiment to get rid of it. Our employee took the advice of a sleep doctor and after a week was able to get enough sleep.

Of course, these are all stories – that you can find out some secrets from a sleeping person. Although some research shows that people can engage in dialogue without waking up. But these are very rare cases, and it is the sleeping people that are synchronized.

For example, a case was recorded when, while sleeping in a construction brigade, two guys talked to each other, as if they were dragging a stretcher. One says: “Raise your side”, the second answers: “I am holding it, I am holding it.” Moreover, both are in a dream. These are isolated cases. You can’t just install a report while sleeping. In general, if you practice it on purpose, you can go crazy. It is very dangerous. If a person has shifts towards schizophrenia, experiments with sleep, according to experts, should not be carried out.

Dreaming is usually not seen as an alarm signal, but only if it is not reinforced by walking in a dream. And for children, this is generally normal.

In a dream, various processes occur, including destructive ones. Sleep has not only medicinal properties, but also vice versa – some diseases are exacerbated. During sleep, the brain works as intensely as during severe stress. As one of my teachers, the late now academician of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences Alexander Vein, said, people with advanced neurological and cardiovascular diseases literally have their lives hanging by a thread.The daily peak of deaths occurs in the morning hours, in the phase of REM sleep. At this time, there is a very strong cardiac and respiratory arrhythmia, and a person who has impaired one of these functions in the body can get into a situation from which he cannot get out.

One of the most dangerous sleep disorders is apnea, that is, respiratory arrest. It mainly appears in men after 30 who are in business. This is associated with stress. All household members who hear a man snoring need to urgently tell him about it so that he can immediately begin treatment.By the way, alcohol is contraindicated for apnea, because it only aggravates it. But, by the way, if you have no violations, then alcohol in small doses before bedtime is even useful: pressure normalizes, blood vessels dilate. You just need to remember that alcohol is useful in homeopathic doses. Many, unfortunately, use it in toxic. This is definitely very harmful.

Severe snoring is associated with impaired blood supply to the brain. And if apnea starts, sooner or later it will inevitably lead to a stroke.Unfortunately, both young and old are subject to it. At risk are overweight smokers who take sleeping pills.

In order to cope with snoring, there is not only a therapeutic push to the side, but also various gadgets – for example, a smart pillow. We wrote about what technologies will make your sleep and wake up better. Take the aroma alarm clock – after all, it is much better to wake up not from the annoying sound of an alarm clock on your phone, but the pleasant smell of croissants or coffee. What other technologies are there for sleep – read here.

Sleep apnea is the result of increased daytime sleepiness, which is very dangerous because many of us drive a car. Spontaneous falling asleep while driving due to poor quality sleep can lead to tragic consequences. Imagine what it is like to close your eyes at speed, even for a second! In many countries, now, when obtaining a driver’s license, you must provide a certificate that you do not have apnea, and you will need to confirm this when you change your license.But after 45 years, almost all men have a problem with breathing during sleep. When they wake up in the morning, they do not know that in fact their body has not got enough sleep.

If a person actively jerks his arms and legs in a dream, this may be a signal that he is developing Parkinson’s disease. Relatives should immediately sound the alarm if someone in the family sleeps so restlessly. Light twitching during REM sleep is not an alarming symptom.

Another very dangerous phenomenon is sleepwalking (sleepwalking).A person at this moment does not see anything, he can fall, hit, break. The so-called sleepwalkers are very afraid of this and even tie themselves to a bed or put a basin of cold water on the floor so that, upon stepping into it, they wake up. But during an attack, they untie the ropes and do not step into the water. This is a complex phenomenon associated with some currently unknown gene disorders.

Sleepwalking in children is not considered a pathology. They can jump up in their beds, cry. But if this persists after puberty, the problem is serious.There is still no effective treatment.

Most importantly, pay attention to how you feel during the day. If there is drowsiness, then try changing the duration of sleep to a greater extent, or if you sleep longer than 8-9 hours – to a shorter one. Healthy sleep is essential to life.

90,000 Scientists have warned of the negative effects of smoking on sleep

Smokers and vapers have more sleep problems than non-smokers.

Smoking cigarettes and e-cigarettes impairs the quality of sleep, a group of American scientists from Oklahoma State University found.

Experts conducted an experiment in which 1664 students took part, 29% of whom smoked regular cigarettes, 41% preferred vapes, and 30% did not smoke at all.

It found that smokers and vapers experienced more sleep problems than non-smokers. Moreover, lovers of electronic devices used sleeping pills most often.

“Since we found that even non-daily use of e-cigarettes was associated with poor sleep, this may indicate a benefit of prevention,” said lead author of the study, Dr. Emma Brett, quoted by RIA Novosti.

According to her, the negative impact of the use of electronic cigarettes on the body proves that vaping is dangerous to health.

Rospotrebnadzor said that 90% of cancers are caused by smoking.

According to Rospotrebnadzor, about 4 thousand chemical compounds have been found in tobacco products, and about 5 thousand in tobacco smoke, of which about 60 substances are carcinogens that cause cancer

The lethal dose for an adult is 60 mg of nicotine.A non-smoked cigarette contains about 10 mg of nicotine, and with one cigarette, a person receives about three milligrams.

Scientists have told what women need to quit smoking. According to doctors, women quit smoking 31% less often than men. Scientists believe that the main reason for such statistics is nervousness, which increases addiction to cigarettes.

According to a recent study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, the risk of serious heart problems in women who smoke is much higher than that of nonsmokers, and even higher than that of men who smoke.

Medicines at the wheel – Russian Automobile Partnership

– How often does taking any medication cause accidents on the roads? – We have no statistics. However, similar data were published in Germany. German researchers from the Traffic Safety Council say drugs are the cause of one in four to five accidents.

According to US data, one in ten American offenders had an accident shortly after taking the drug.

Therefore, foreign physicians are increasingly suggesting the heads of pharmaceutical concerns to apply noticeable characteristic symbols to medicinal packaging.They should remind drivers of the unwanted effects of medication while driving.

– Which of the drugs is the most dangerous for the driver?

– The most numerous and “risky” group of drugs – those that affect the speed of reactions and coordination of movements. The insidiousness of these pills is that the consequences of taking them in the evening can only appear the next morning.

The most noticeable effect on the psyche is exerted by the so-called psychotropic drugs. These primarily include hypnotics – imovan, ivadal, donormil, phenobarbital.

Tranquilizers – tazepam, nozepam, phenazepam, rudotel, relanium, elenium, seduxen, nitrazepam, sibazon, valium – are definitely dangerous. These drugs, on the one hand, reduce fear, anxiety, tension, and on the other hand, they slow down the speed of reactions and often have a hypnotic effect.

For most other psychotropic drugs, the hypnotic effect is not the main one. However, they can change the psyche and behavior. Therefore, the person taking them can be unpredictable. Tegretol, finlepsin, chlorpromazine, sonapax, tizercin, neuleptyl, eglonil, triftazine greatly alter the rate of mental reactions.

Certain antidepressants, especially amitriptyline and imipramine, are very dangerous for drivers. New drugs in this group – Prozac, Paxil, Coaxil and the like – have less effect on the coordination of movements. But even when using them while driving, care must be taken.

Antiallergic drugs of the so-called old generation – diphenhydramine, suprastin, tavegil, pipolfen can affect the nervous system. Many of them are hypnotic. They noticeably reduce the ability to concentrate and slow down the reaction.In addition, these medications can make you feel tired and lethargic. It is dangerous on the road.

Some pain relievers also act on the brain, in particular tramal, tramadol, ketorol, ketanov, pentalgin, sedalgin, solpaflex, solpadein.

Vision loses its sharpness from some medications used in the practice of eye doctors. For example, when using atropine.

Non-prescription drugs that people buy on the advice of a friend or pharmacist can also have an unpredictable effect on the reaction rate.Alas, not everyone reads the instructions attached to the drug. The consequences of this carelessness can be the most sad.

– Which OTC drugs are most dangerous while driving?

– Unlike strong prescription drugs, advertised drugs are mistakenly considered completely harmless.

It is dangerous to drive even after taking some cold remedies. These include, for example, Coldrex Knight, Teraflu, Fervex, Nurofen Plus.These drugs contain antiallergic and other additives that can cause drowsiness.

Drugs with codeine, which soothes cough, are known as completely harmless means. Meanwhile, according to medical statistics, about 10 percent of people using them become less attentive, get tired faster. Their reaction slows down. Codeine is found in codterpine, codelac and many complex drugs for the treatment of colds and coughs. So for drivers, the well-known home treatment methods are preferable – honey, chamomile, thyme, pharmacy breast collection.

Some medicines for diarrhea – imodium and loperamide – should not be taken while driving. These drugs sometimes inhibit the nervous system. Drugs containing metoclopramide, raglan and cerucal, often used in gastroenterology to reduce nausea, have a similar effect. Motilium, close to metoclopramide, does not inhibit the reaction rate.

– Can you single out the “most dangerous” drugs for the driver?

– From the huge list of drugs, the use of which is associated with an increased risk for drivers, it makes no sense to single out “especially dangerous”.Anyone can cause problems on the road.

By the way, keep in mind that not all medicines available in pharmacies are certified as medicines. Sometimes medicines are sold under the guise of “nutritional supplements.” This makes it easier and cheaper to bring them to market. You cannot poison yourself with them, since all dietary supplements have a safety certificate. However, a full-fledged study of dietary supplements is not carried out.

There have been cases when psychotropic substances that affect appetite and unpredictably affect the psyche have been found in food supplements for weight loss.

By the way, both homeopathic remedies and acupuncture are unsafe, in which relaxing points are “turned on”. In any case, doctors advise not to self-medicate.

– What if the driver is allergic or needs psychotropic drugs for treatment?

– The latest generations of allergy drugs – claritin, zyrtec, telfast and erius – are practically safe in terms of their effect on the psyche. It is these tablets that are recommended for use by allergic drivers.

But if you cannot do without psychotropic drugs, then at the time of taking them you will have to give up driving. In addition, I want to emphasize that even soothing herbs such as valerian, motherwort, peony, lemon balm can slow down motor and mental reactions. Therefore, after taking the fees or pills that contain these plants, drivers can only get behind the wheel after 12 hours.

– Now there is a lot of talk about the fact that for hypertension, medications should be taken constantly.But what about in this case?

– Yes, some of them may have an inhibitory effect. First of all, these are drugs acting on the central nervous system – reserpine and drugs containing it: adelfan, cristepin, trireside K, brinerdin. No less dangerous are clonidine and finish. Now they try to use these drugs as little as possible.

But the psyche can also be affected by the so-called beta-blockers. For example, anaprilin, metoprolol and others, produced under different trade names.Drugs in this group are used not only for the treatment of hypertension, but also for arrhythmias, coronary heart disease. Therefore, for people with diseases of the cardiovascular system, beta-blockers are often indispensable.

– How then to be? Give up driving altogether?

– Sometimes it is really necessary. However, the beta blocker group is not homogeneous. Some of them, such as atenolol, have a minimal effect on the psyche. In addition, you need to understand that the effect of the same drug on the human nervous system is individual.

– Is it possible to somehow find out whether a medicine affects the speed of a person’s reaction or not?

– Yes.