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Sleeping pill danger: Common and Potentially Harmful Side Effects


Common and Potentially Harmful Side Effects

Between a third and half of all Americans have insomnia and complain of poor sleep. Perhaps you’re one of them. If so, you may be considering taking a sleeping pill.

A sleeping pill may be effective at ending your sleep problems short-term. But it’s important to make sure you understand everything you need to know about sleeping pills. That includes knowing about sleeping pill side effects. When you do, you can avoid misusing these sedatives.

What Are Sleeping Pills?

Most sleeping pills are classified as “sedative hypnotics.” That’s a specific class of drugs used to induce and/or maintain sleep. Sedative hypnotics include benzodiazepines, barbiturates, and various hypnotics.

Benzodiazepines such as Xanax, Valium, Ativan, and Librium are anti-anxiety medications. They also increase drowsiness and help people sleep. Halcion is an older benzodiazepine sedative-hypnotic medicine that has largely been replaced by newer medicines. While these drugs may be useful short-term, all benzodiazepines are potentially addictive and can cause problems with memory and attention. They are usually not recommended for long-term treatment of sleeping problems.


Barbiturates, another drug in this sedative-hypnotic class, depress the central nervous system and can cause sedation. Short- or long-acting barbiturates are prescribed as sedatives or sleeping pills. But more commonly, these hypnotic drugs are limited to use as anesthesia.They can be fatal in overdose.

Newer medications help reduce the time it takes to fall asleep. Some of these sleep-inducing drugs, which bind to the same receptors in the brain as do benzodiazepines, include Lunesta, Sonata, and Ambien. They are somewhat less likely than benzodiazepines to be habit-forming, but over time can still sometimes cause physical dependence. They can work quickly to increase drowsiness and sleep. Another sleep aid, called Rozerem, acts differently from other sleep medicines by affecting a brain hormone called melatonin, and is not habit-forming. Belsomra is another unique sleep aid that affects a brain chemical called orexin, and is not addictive or habit-forming. Another sleep medicine that is not habit-forming, Silenor, is a low-dose form of the tricyclic antidepressant doxepin.

What Are the Side Effects of Sleeping Pills?

Sleeping pills have side effects like most medications. You won’t know, though, whether you will experience side effects with a particular sleeping pill until you try it.


Your doctor may be able to alert you to the possibility of side effects if you have asthma or other health conditions. Sleeping pills can interfere with normal breathing and can be dangerous in people who have certain chronic lung problems such as asthma , emphysema, or forms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Common side effects of prescription sleeping pills such as Lunesta, Sonata, Ambien, Rozerem, and Halcion may include:

  • Burning or tingling in the hands, arms, feet, or legs
  • Changes in appetite
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty keeping balance
  • Dizziness
  • Daytime drowsiness
  • Dry mouth or throat
  • Gas
  • Headache
  • Heartburn
  • Impairment the next day
  • Mental slowing or problems with attention or memory
  • Stomach pain or tenderness
  • Uncontrollable shaking of a part of the body
  • Unusual dreams
  • Weakness

It’s important to be aware of possible sleeping pill side effects so you can stop the drug and call your doctor immediately to avoid a more serious health problem.

Are There More Complex Sleeping Pill Side Effects?

Some sleeping pills have potentially harmful side effects, including parasomnias. Parasomnias are movements, behaviors and actions over which you have no control, like sleepwalking. During a parasomnia, you are asleep and unaware of what is happening.

Parasomnias with sleeping pills are complex sleep behaviors and may include sleep eating, making phone calls, or having sex while in a sleep state. Sleep driving, which is driving while not fully awake, is another serious sleeping pill side effect. Though rare, parasomnias are difficult to detect once the medication takes effect.

Product labels for sedative-hypnotic medicines include language about the potential risks of taking a sleeping pill. Because complex sleep behaviors are more likely to occur if you increase the dosage of a sleeping pill, take only what your doctor prescribes — no more.

Can I Be Allergic to Sleeping Pills?

Yes — people can have an allergic reaction to any medicine, which could be related to either the active ingredient of the medicine itself or to any of its inactive ingredients (such as dyes, binders or coatings). People who have an allergic reaction to a specific sleeping pill should avoid it. It’s important to talk to your doctor at the first sign of these serious side effects, including:

  • Blurred vision or any other problems with your sight
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • Feeling that the throat is closing
  • Hives
  • Hoarseness
  • Itching
  • Nausea
  • Pounding heartbeat
  • Rash
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swelling of the eyes, face, lips, tongue, or throat
  • Vomiting

In addition, a serious — even deadly — side effect of any medicine someone is allergic to is anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is an acute allergic reaction. Another possible effect is angioedema, which is severe facial swelling. Again, discuss these possibilities with your doctor if you are at risk of allergic reactions.

When Do I Take a Sleeping Pill?

It’s usually recommended that you take the sleeping pill right before your desired bedtime. Read your doctor’s instructions on the sleeping pill prescription label. The instructions have specific information regarding your medication. In addition, always allow ample time to sleep before you take a sleeping pill.

Is It Dangerous to Combine Sleeping Pills and Alcohol?

Yes. Mixing alcohol and sleeping pills can have additive sedating effects from both drugs, and the combination can cause someone to stop breathing, which could cause death. Sleeping pill labels warn against using alcohol while taking the drug.

Also, you should not eat grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice while taking some sleeping pills. Grapefruit increases the amount of the drug absorbed into your bloodstream and how long it stays in the body. That can cause over-sedation.

Can I Become Dependent on Sleeping Pills?

For short-term insomnia, your doctor may prescribe sleeping pills for several weeks. Yet after regular use for a longer period, some sleeping pills such as benzodiazepines or benzodiazepine agonists such as zolpidem or eszopiclone may stop working as you build a tolerance to the medication. (However, tolerance has not been shown with non-habit-forming sleeping pills like Belsomra, Rozerem or Silenor.) You may also become psychologically dependent on the medicine. Then the idea of going to sleep without it will make you anxious.

Without the sleeping pill, you might find it difficult to sleep. If that happens, it could be a sign of a physical or emotional dependence or both. Some studies show that long-term use of sleeping pills actually interferes with sleep. The best way to avoid developing a physical or emotional dependence on sleeping pills is to follow your doctor’s instructions and stop taking the drug when recommended.

Sleeping Pills Symptoms and Warning Signs

Signs of Sleeping Pill Abuse


Sleeping pills are classified as sedative hypnotics and are prescribed for insomnia and other sleep disorders to induce sleep. Sleeping pills are only prescribed as a short-term solution for sleep as many of them have the potential to lead to misuse, abuse and addiction. Though they do have legitimate uses, sleeping pills also come with significant risks and side effects, which many people don’t realize. Being able to recognize the signs of sleeping pill abuse can save the life of someone you care about.

Many people underestimate the powerful grip sleeping pills like Ambien or Sonata can have over someone’s life and the dangers of abusing these drugs.

Many people abusing sleeping pills experience memory and concentration problems.

Some of the signs of sleeping pill abuse include:

  • Slurred speech
  • Uncoordinated movements
  • Unsteady gait
  • Inability to focus
  • Impaired memory
  • Unusual euphoria

The Dangers of Sleeping Pills

Both the immediate and long-term dangers of sleeping pill abuse are enough for most people to exercise caution when using them. However, many people aren’t aware of the dangers of these medications.

The dangerous effects of sleep medications range from seizures to depressed breathing. Some people also experience allergic reactions from sleeping pills that can cause difficulty breathing, chest pain, nausea and swelling.

Though rare, people who use sleeping pills may even develop parasomnias. Parasomnias are defined as sleep disorders that include behaviors like sleep-walking, sleep-eating, sleep-sex, sleep-driving and other potentially dangerous sleep-related activities.

The immediate dangers of sleeping pills range from minor fatigue to coma. Some of these side effects can even lead to deadly overdoses, casting light on the true dangers of sleeping pills.

Common symptoms and side-effects of sleeping pill abuse include:

  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Difficulty with coordination
  • Daytime drowsiness
  • Memory loss
  • Unusual dreams
  • Itching and swelling
  • Lightheadedness
  • Depressed breathing rate
  • Relying on sleeping pills every night in order to fall asleep
  • Not experiencing the same effects from the same dose
  • Preoccupation with bedtime in order to take medication
  • Taking medication without the intent to go to sleep in order to feel euphoric effects
  • Having cravings to use sleeping pills during the day
  • Running out of prescription early

Those who use sleeping pills over a long period of time are likely to experience intensified side effects. As they continue taking these pills over time, the substance builds up in their body and produces unwanted side effects. These effects may include high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat and depression.

Rebound Insomnia

One side effect of acute withdrawal from sleeping pills that most chronic users experience is “rebound insomnia,” or the resurgence of sleeping troubles once the user stops taking the drug. Rebound insomnia is most common when the user abruptly stops taking their medication (also known as quitting “cold-turkey”) or reduces their dosage.  Often, this kind of insomnia is worse than the original insomnia. Rebound insomnia might even cause bizarre and disturbing dreams that can lead to panic attacks and increased anxiety upon waking.

Rebound insomnia is a withdrawal symptom from an addiction to a sleeping pill and should not be considered a reason to continue use. Rebound insomnia is often the cause of relapse for those trying to recover. This can create a dangerous cycle of abuse.

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Recognizing a Sleeping Pill Addiction

Sleeping pills pose a serious risk of physical dependence, especially when taken for longer than two weeks. Individuals often lack understanding of how quickly tolerance develops with sleeping pills, especially when someone takes an extra pill here and there. Tolerance can result in physical dependence and/or an addiction.

Many people who develop an addiction to sleeping pills have reported increasing their dose after the effects had diminished. Over time, they developed a tolerance that turned into an addiction. The first step in overcoming this powerful addiction is recognizing that there’s a problem.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders outlines the full criteria for clinically diagnosing an addiction. These criteria include behavioral, physical, and psycological symptoms that result from prolonged drug use. Those who become addicted to their sleep medication may exhibit symptoms such as:

  • Needing larger doses to fall asleep
  • Trying and failing to quit more than once
  • Ignoring social, professional, educational, and familial obligations
  • Seeming confused or frequently detached
  • Isolating oneself from friends and family
  • Engaging in hazardous behavior while under the influence
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms
  • No longer engaging in previously enjoyed activities
  • Craving sleeping pills
  • Having mood swings
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Intervention and Next Steps

If someone you care about exhibits the signs and symptoms of having an addiction to sleeping pills, whether it’s Lunesta, Sonata, or Ambien, it’s time to talk to them about getting help. Staging an intervention is one of the best ways to show an addicted person that you are on their side and that it’s okay to get help.

The goal of intervention is to get the addicted person in treatment immediately. Some families hire an intervention specialist for help managing the situation. Specialists can also help you figure out what to say to your loved one and outline consequences if they refuse to get help.

Withdrawal and Treatment

Users who have become dependent on sleeping pills will experience withdrawal symptoms when quitting, and a dependency can develop in as little as 7 days. Withdrawal symptoms can last a few weeks depending on length of use, age, gender, dosage levels, and other factors. The best way to manage withdrawal symptoms is by going through medical detox.

The severity of withdrawal symptoms varies from person to person. Symptoms include insomnia, anxiety, panic attacks, irritability, excessive sweating, depression, muscle tension, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes seizures.

Rebound insomnia is also particularly hard to overcome for many people, but it can be managed through proper treatment. A trained medical professional can help you overcome your sleeping pill addiction without the symptoms of quitting “cold turkey.”

Sleeping pill addiction treatment is usually carried out in either an inpatient or an outpatient setting. Inpatient rehab, where the patient lives in a rehab facility and is under continuous medical and psychological observation is generally considered the best method for achieving and maintaining sobriety. Inpatient rehab is especially recommended for those with severe sleeping pill addictions, those who have unsuccessfully attempted rehab in the past, and those who live in an environment where drugs and alcohol are easily accessible.

Outpatient rehab does not include residential or a medical supervision components, but it does require participants to meet several times a week for a few hours each time. Outpatient rehab is best suited to those who have already completed an inpatient program and need to readjust to normal life or to those who have professional, academic, or familial obligations that they cannot abandon. Potential patients should have a substance abuse evaluation conducted by an addiction professional to determine which level of care is appropriate for them.

If you or someone you know has a problem with sleeping pills, get in touch with a treatment provider today for help finding treatment.

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.

Ambien Overdose | Ambien Overdose Treatment, Signs, & Symptoms

Zolpidem is a prescription-grade sedative and hypnotic medication best known by its more recognizable brand name, Ambien. This medical compound is intended to fix the brain’s chemistry as it relates to disrupted sleep patterns. Insomnia is the most common of these conditions, and Ambien works to either help patients fall asleep in the first place or keep them in a state of deep, restful slumber.

Though very similar to benzodiazepines in regards to intended effects, side effects and usage, Ambien is considered to be a nonbenzodiazepine due to chemical dissimilarities.

Some users have reported engaging in dangerous activities while under the influence of Ambien. Sleepwalking, while potentially harmless in some scenarios, has led to accidental deaths when using the drug. Additionally, cases of sleep-driving have occurred, which increases the threat factor by an enormous amount. The sleep aid disables basic functions while individuals are still awake, too. For all these reasons, it comes as no surprise that physicians highly discourage any Ambien users from operating vehicles or performing normal day-to-day functions after taking the medication.

Beyond the possibility of a sleep-related injury, another consequence of Ambien use is a potential overdose. Ambien overdoses can occur when the medicine is used improperly at high doses. Prepare to discover what symptoms of such an overdose would look like, how much Ambien it takes to reach the said point, and what can be done to reverse the effects.

Drug overdose can be fatal. If you suspect someone is experiencing an overdose, call 911 immediately. Do NOT be afraid to seek help. If you do not have access to a phone contact Web Poison Control Services for online assistance.

Because many begin taking Ambien under the care of a doctor, it can be difficult to notice when addiction begins to creep in. If you’re struggling with a dependence on Ambien or any other substance, you’re not alone. Help is closer than you think. At The Recovery Village, clients heal from their substance use disorders under the care of compassionate clinicians and physicians. Reach out to an intake coordinator today for more information. 

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.

The Risks of Taking Sleeping Pills

Erratic Behavior Side Effects

We’ve all been known to do strange things in our sleep, but prescription sleeping pills, particularly benzodiazepines such as triazolam, have been known to cause side effects like sleepwalking and amnesia. “You’ll wake up, and you won’t know where you are,” Leavey says. This has also been seen in people who have taken the newer sleep aids like Ambien. If you (or your significant other) notice evidence of strange behavior while you’re taking sleeping pills, report these problems with sleeping pills to your doctor promptly. 

Falling Down 

Hospital patients who took zolpidem were four times more likely to fall than those who did not take the drug during their hospital stay, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Hospital Medicine. “Falling is absolutely a problem,” Leavey says. “Your entire body is balanced on two little feet. You have sensors on your feet that constantly measure your center of gravity and where you are. If I give you a drug that dulls that system, you’ll fall down.” Older patients are particularly at risk for this problem with sleeping pills, he adds.

Cancer and Death

People who took prescription sleeping pills were more likely to die or get cancer than those who did not take them, according to a 2012 study published in BMJ Open. Though the results are concerning, they don’t necessarily mean that these drugs definitely cause negative side effects. “I would really want to see more evidence on that one,” Leavey says. The study’s authors suggest that cognitive behavioral therapy, a type of treatment that helps you change your thinking patterns, could be a better treatment for chronic insomnia than drugs.

You May Have Trouble Weaning Off Sleeping Pills

Once you begin taking sleeping pills, it can be hard to stop, particularly if you’ve been taking them for a long time. Some people experience “rebound insomnia” — when sleeping problems actually worsen once you stop taking the drug. If you want to go off your sleeping pills, talk to your doctor about setting up a schedule to gradually reduce your dosage, rather than just quitting cold turkey. “It may be rough coming off, but things will eventually get better,” Leavey says.

Long-Term Sleeping Pill Use: Risks & Effects | Blog

Published on September 27, 2019
Reading Time: < 1 minute
Dr. Carl Rosenberg

Americans experience a lot of sleepless nights. An unprecedented 50-70 million Americans have sleep problems according to estimates. Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder and the CDC says that more than one third of the country regularly gets less than the recommended amount of rest. With so many people struggling to get enough sleep, sleeping pills have become increasingly popular.

Prescription and over-the-counter sleep aids are meant to be used occasionally, but people are depending on them more and more for nightly relaxation. Medical experts are concerned with this trend because of the negative long-term health effects of these drugs.

Long-Term Use of Prescription Sleep Aids

Sleeping pills are drugs categorized as sedative-hypnotics. The most commonly prescribed medications are Ambien, Sonata and Lunesta. These are powerful drugs which are supposed to be used in small doses and only for short-term treatment of insomnia and other sleep disturbances. A patient’s need for prescription sleep aid should be re-evaluated after just 10-28 days. This is clearly stated in the drug information provided to patients by the pharmaceutical company.

Relying on sleeping pills for longer periods of time or in higher doses increases the likeliness that that person will experience negative side effects. Some of the health issues that have been associated with these medications include:

  • Headaches,
  • Dizziness and lightheadedness,
  • Nausea and vomiting,
  • Sleep walking,
  • Hallucinations,
  • Impaired motor skills and lack of coordination,
  • Daytime drowsiness, and
  • Depression.

Additionally, drugs like Ambien, Sonata and Lunesta have been connected to an increased risk for falls, injuries and car accidents. Some research has also shown a significantly higher diagnosis of cancer for patients regularly taking sleeping pills. According to the FDA, sleep aids can have dangerous effects by decreasing blood pressure, the heart and breathing rate if taken together with other prescription medications.

The Risk of Dependency & Addiction

The Journal of the American Medical Association has found that more than 68% of patients prescribed sleeping pills take them for longer periods than advised. They also found that many were taking larger quantities than the prescribed dosage. This trend is a problem because these controlled substances are habit forming. There is a high risk of becoming dependent on sleeping pills. There is also a danger of becoming psychologically dependent on taking a pill to help you relax and fall asleep.

Most people do not understand that they have formed an addiction to the medication until they try to stop taking it. Here are the warning signs of a dependence on these types of drugs:

  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not taken,
  • Being unsuccessful at stopping,
  • Anxiety when the medication is not available,
  • Requesting refills from multiple doctors, and
  • Frequent memory loss.

If you think you may be struggling with a drug dependency or are concerned about a loved one, please seek professional help. You can find more information from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Related article: Opioid Use May Increase the Risk of Sleep Disorders.

Long-Term Use of Over-the-Counter Medications

Medical professionals are also concerned about the number of Americans who rely on over-the-counter drugs to help them sleep. Medications, like Benadryl and Tylenol PM containing diphenhydramine, may seem harmless but can have a strong effect on the body. These drugs decrease brain function making it difficult to stay alert.

Non-prescription these types of medications can affect learning and memory in the long term and can be especially dangerous for seniors. For example, research by the Journal of the American Medical Association has found a strong link in regular use of these drugs and dementia.

Watch this video to learn more about the safety concerns related to over-the-counter sleep aids.

Learn more about the 10 Effects of Long-Term Sleep Deprivation and Proven Tips to Fall Asleep Faster.

Why Aren’t You Sleeping?

Sleeping pills are not a valid long-term treatment for insomnia or other sleep disorders. They can have serious side effects for your health, but they also do not solve the problem. Regular reliance on medications can actually keep someone from being properly diagnosed.

To successfully address the issue, it is first necessary to identify the underlying sleep disorder with the help of sleep testing. There are drug-free, long-lasting therapy options available for people struggling with ongoing sleep deprivation. For example, cognitive behavior therapy has been shown to be an effective treatment for stress-related problems and insomnia.

If you are having problems falling asleep or getting enough rest during the night, talk to your physician about a clinical sleep evaluation. Do not become a victim of long-term sleep deprivation. Contact Sleep Health Solutions to schedule a consultation today.

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.


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.


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

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90,000 Dangers of using sleeping pills for sleep disorders. Poluektov M.G.

Oksana Mikhailovna Drapkina , Professor, Doctor of Medical Sciences:

– We continue. We are transported into a field that is not very well known to us, it seems to me, but very interesting: neurology. Poluektov Mikhail Guryevich will talk about the dangers of using sleeping pills for sleep disorders.

Mikhail Guryevich Poluektov , associate professor, candidate of medical sciences:

– Good afternoon, dear colleagues.Today we will talk about one of the biggest problems in Russian somnology – the problem of the abuse of sleeping pills. What does this entail?

At one time, at an international conference, we presented data where we tried to analyze the frequency of seeking specialized care in sleep centers, centers that deal with sleep disorders, and patients with different diagnoses. And now it turned out that in the first place, more than half of the requests were associated with the so-called secondary insomnia – secondary insomnia.And more than half of the cases of secondary insomnia, secondary insomnia were associated with such a form of insomnia as dependence on sleeping pills.

I want to remind you about insomnia again. What is this anyway? How is it diagnosed? Insomnia, or insomnia, is not a disease, it is a clinical syndrome. He has three main points to diagnose. First, there are any sleep disturbances. That is, if a person does not fall asleep well, if he often wakes up, if he wakes up early in the morning and cannot then fall asleep – all this is insomnia.Any complaint about sleep disturbances is actually insomnia. These disorders occur when a person has enough time to sleep. This is the second starting point for diagnosing this syndrome. And the third point is that the consequences of such a sleep disturbance are a violation of daytime functioning. It can be a variety of disorders: drowsiness, irritability, and a feeling of fatigue, and difficulty concentrating, even gastroenterological complaints can be. That is, the spectrum of daytime consequences of insomnia is quite wide.It is very important that insomnia is not just one disease. There are 9 types of insomnia, some of which are categorically contraindicated to prescribe hypnotics.

Not so long ago, we published a study that was conducted in Chuvashia at the department of Andrei Vasilyevich Golenkov, at the psychiatric department, where the frequency of sleep disorders in a sample of the population of the Russian Federation was analyzed. And it turned out that about 20% of respondents in the general population are unhappy with their sleep.They answered in the affirmative when asked whether they have frequent or constant sleep disturbances. But what we were most concerned about in the results of this study was that 4.5% of all respondents – not those who were dissatisfied with their sleep, but in general all respondents – constantly or almost constantly took sleeping pills. If, for example, we compare this with data from foreign studies, then only 0.2% of the population in the general population take sleeping pills, for example, in Western Europe or the United States of America.That is, the frequency of the use of sleeping pills in the Russian Federation is several dozen times higher.

And most often the use of sleeping pills is associated with the so-called secondary insomnia, secondary insomnia. There are primary forms of insomnia, which I will talk about a little later, and there are secondary forms. Usually, no one really tries to look for the cause of insomnia. If there is a diagnosis of the underlying disease, the diagnosis of insomnia is also attributed to it. There, “Dyscirculatory encephalopathy.Insomnia “,” Gastroesophageal reflux disease. Insomnia “. In fact, everything is not so simple, of course. We can talk about the presence of a causal relationship with the underlying disease if sleep disturbance begins after the onset of the underlying disease or simultaneously with it and if periods of change in the clinical picture of the underlying disease are also accompanied by a change in the severity of sleep disturbance. Then we have no doubt that this insomnia is secondary. For example, in case of pain syndromes, when the back hurts or the joint hurts, then, of course, not before sleep, until the appropriate drugs are taken.When the exacerbation subsides, sleep is restored. This is a very typical example of a typical secondary insomnia.

Insomnia in mental disorders is also a very common form of secondary insomnia, accompanying almost any mental disorder: anxiety disorders, depressive disorders, panic disorders, and in schizophrenia, sleep disorders are very common. That is, it is a very characteristic symptom for mental illness.

Another form of secondary insomnia is insomnia in diseases of the internal organs and the nervous system.I have already touched on this topic a little. In patients with cerebral strokes, for example, sleep disorders are very common – 57% of the hospital population of such patients have sleep disorders.

In general, the probability of detecting insomnia in various forms of pathology that is not associated with a mental disorder is very high. That is, insomnia occurs in a variety of diseases: with heart disease, with arterial hypertension, with arrhythmias, with various respiratory problems. But most often insomnia disorders, sleep disorders occur in diseases of the nervous system. In this table, we see that sleep disorders are 6 times more common in patients with neurological diseases than in a comparable control group without such diseases. This is much more common than, for example, in people with diabetes mellitus, problems in the genitourinary sphere, and so on. That is, neurological diseases lead after mental disorders in terms of the incidence of insomnia (insomnia).

And a very big problem of secondary insomnia is insomnia associated with the intake of drugs or other substances.With this I began the story that more than half of patients who turn to specialized centers for help have just this diagnosis – insomnia associated with drug dependence, or insomnia associated with taking medications. Most often it is insomnia associated with the intake of benzodiazepine hypnotics. You know that it is in the Russian Federation that some benzodiazepine hypnotics are extremely common, which are used completely uncontrollably.There may be a barbituric dependence – very popular drugs contain phenobarbital. If you count it approximately, then, for example, 100 drops of Valocordin is approximately one tablet of Phenobarbital. Phenobarbital is a first generation sleeping pill that has many unwanted side effects. Alcohol: also alcohol intake, alcohol abuse is accompanied by the development of a specific form of insomnia, associated precisely with alcohol dependence. Here with “recreational substances” – I mean energotonics, some substances associated with spending the night – we still do not encounter so often in our practice, and this is not such a pronounced problem, at least in those centers in which we work.

We said that there are forms of secondary insomnia that are associated with certain diseases, and there are forms of primary insomnia. And the most common medical error is the use of sleeping pills for some forms of primary insomnia. There is only one form of primary insomnia for which sleeping pills should be taken. Indeed, it has been proven that if hypnotics are prescribed on time for, for example, a form of insomnia called “adaptive insomnia”, or “acute insomnia”, or “stress response”, then a person quickly gets out of this stressful state, recovers faster. This is the most common, in fact, everyday insomnia. During the year, 1/5 of the population experiences this form of insomnia, because stress occurs constantly. But more often than not, this insomnia spontaneously resolves without the need to resort to some kind of sleeping pills. But if it is delayed, if it lasts for more than three months after the stress factor ends, then most likely it will already be a question of another form of sleep disorder, which I will talk about a little later. This is the only form of primary insomnia, which is not associated with any disease, in which the appointment of a sleeping pill is indicated and helps to quickly get out of this stressful state.

What drugs are used most often? The most commonly used ligands of the GABA-A receptor complex. This is how it looks beautiful in electronic photography. It is also called the Costa complex. This is an ion channel, which is surrounded by five protein subunits, a molecule of gamma-aminobutyric acid is attached to certain places, and benzodiazepines are attached to certain places. Benzodiazepines increase the affinity of this receptor for GABA – GABA begins to act more strongly, causing a stronger inhibitory effect.And the hypnotic effect of the drug, or sedative, or anxiolytic, or muscle relaxant, depends on which type of one of the five subunits the hypnotic drug is attached to.

Non-selective benzodiazepine drugs. If we use hypnotics as benzodiazepines, they attach to the alpha-1 subunits of this complex, and to alpha-2, to alpha-3, 5, and accordingly they produce a whole range of desirable effects, such as sedative and hypnotic effects. and undesirable, if we use them as sleeping pills – amnestic effect, muscle relaxant.Anxiolytic action is rather desirable.

More modern hypnotics have a different structure – not benzodiazepine. These are Zaleplon, Zopiclone, Zolpidem – the so-called Z-drugs. They have a high affinity for the alpha-1 subunit and hardly bind to other subunits. They are considered to have less potential for unwanted side effects than the benzodiazepine hypnotics that preceded them.

What problems most often arise with the use of benzodiazepine hypnotics? This is tolerance (addiction), that is, it is gradually required to apply more and more doses of the drug in order to get the same effect.Dependence, withdrawal syndrome – the criterion of dependence is precisely the development of withdrawal symptoms: when we cancel the drug, sleep disturbances increase sharply, a whole range of side effects, primarily of the vegetative plan, arises, and psychomotor agitation arises. These are very undesirable effects that are really very poorly tolerated by patients.

Worsening sleep apnea syndrome – I’ll talk about this a little further. Reduced memory, attention, reaction time – the so-called cognitive toxicity.It is connected with the fact that many drugs of the benzodiazepine series, which are used as sleeping pills, have a very long half-life and continue to act both in the morning and in the afternoon, because they have not yet left the body in sufficient quantities. For actively working people, this can really become a problem, or, for example, when driving a car.

So-called behavioral toxicity is a problem for older people, of course, first of all. Again, in the morning, when an elderly person gets up, and the effect of the sleeping pill has not yet ended, this can lead to unwanted falls, which can be fraught with complications for older people.

Daytime sleepiness – also because of the long half-life, the beneficial effect of the sleeping pill becomes harmful.

Another approach to the use of these sleeping pills is not to enhance the GABAergic transmission, when we increase the inhibitory effect on the brain, put it to sleep, but to inhibit the activating brain systems. It is one of the most important activating brain systems, containing histamine, and it has wakefulness-stimulating properties. If the receptors in this system are blocked, then the balance between the activating and inhibiting cerebral systems will be disturbed: the person will fall asleep. This is the ideology of using central blockers of histamine receptors.

For this, the drug Doxylamine is used, for example. This is a blocker of the h2-subtype, as I said, histamine receptors. It has a sedative, hypnotic effect. The half-life of the drug is 10 hours. Not as small, but significantly less than many commonly prescribed benzodiazepine hypnotics.It is usually prescribed for a short time in acute forms of insomnia. It is discharged according to the usual prescriptions. It can be used in pregnant women throughout the entire period of pregnancy – this is written in the new instructions for the drug.

There are certain restrictions on the use of this drug. It is not used in children, with caution if sleep apnea is suspected. Again, it will be necessary to talk about apnea further. With caution – for patients over 65 years of age due to possible dizziness and delayed reactions with the danger of falling.And due to the fact that it has an anticholinergic effect, it is contraindicated in patients with angle-closure glaucoma and prostate adenoma. That is, this sleeping pill has restrictions on its use.

What to do with a patient who came to the doctor 10 years ago, asked him for a sleeping pill, he was prescribed (most likely, it was a benzodiazepine sleeping pill), and after 10 years he comes and says: “Doctor, I’m not two or three tablets of this remedy help.Anything else? This is a really big problem, you need to work a lot with this patient, and here is an algorithm for working with such patients. First, it is necessary to reduce the dose of the drug. Do not immediately remove the drug, but gradually reduce it in order to avoid the sudden onset of withdrawal symptoms, withdrawal symptoms. Unfortunately, in the Russian Federation there are no sedative hypnotics that would be dosed in drops, when, for example, the same Diazepam could be gradually reduced by one drop per night. But we recommend that patients somehow divide these pills into several parts.

Then, if we manage to minimize the dose of the drug, go away, for example, from three tablets to two, to one tablet, we transfer the patient to a non-hypnotic drug that has sedative and hypnotic side effects. Most often these are antidepressants with sedative effects: Mianserin, Trazodone.

In the future, if we manage to get away from a typical hypnotic drug, addiction does not develop to antidepressants, then in the future it is possible to get away from antidepressants: reduce the dose of the drug, switch to lighter over-the-counter drugs.

If this does not help, if the patient cannot endure the dose reduction period, the withdrawal period, we probably have the only remedy – the so-called drug vacation. For years, some patients can follow the following scheme: 1 plus 1, 3 plus 1 – live and sleep tolerably well. What is the essence of this scheme? For three weeks, for example, a patient takes a sleeping pill, for three weeks he does not take a sleeping pill, but takes anything: sedative herbs, but most often they are over-the-counter drugs.This is necessary in order to restore sensitivity to the original drug. And the patient himself already knows that indeed he will sleep very badly for three weeks, he will suffer, but he will still sleep, because sleep is the basic need of the body. But for the next three weeks he will sleep great, and he will not develop addiction in these three weeks. At the same time, it is important to maintain it: we prescribe behavioral therapy, limit the time spent in bed, limit daytime sleep, for example, teach him to observe the rules of sleep hygiene, and there are so-called “supportive” visits, when the doctor and the patient simply talk “Is everything being observed? “.

I have said that another problem with the use of many sleeping pills is associated with the danger of aggravating a condition such as obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, or Pickwick syndrome. Here is a classic image of such a fat guy Joe, who served a certain gentleman and all the time got into strange situations, when he fell asleep while eating, fell asleep when ringing the bell, fell asleep all the time. Therefore, since this was the first novel by Charles Dickens, The Pickwick Papers, this syndrome has long been called Pickwick Syndrome.

And then it turned out that this condition is due to the fact that during sleep in such people, most often with morbid obesity, there is a huge number of breath holdings, and because of this they are almost unable to plunge into deep sleep. For years they do not get deep sleep, and accordingly have constant daytime sleepiness. This is most often associated with morbid obesity. Here we see how different the lumen of the upper respiratory tract is in such patients, and when they fall asleep, this lumen becomes even smaller.

One of the main pathogenetic mechanisms for the development of complications in this condition is fluctuations in blood pressure associated with a change in the level of blood oxygen saturation and with sympathetic hyperactivation.

At the same time, if sleeping pills are taken, a very unpleasant phenomenon is observed when there is a discoordination of the muscle contractions of those muscles that support the lumen of the upper airways, which prevent them from closing during inhalation, and the diaphragm.

In the upper graph, we see that during the respiratory cycle there is a synchronous activation of these muscles, and when using, for example, alcohol, the activation of the hypoglossal muscle, which is responsible for ensuring the airway lumen, is significantly reduced. And a situation arises that the muscles of the upper respiratory tract do not have time to prepare for the negative air pressure that enters the airways during inhalation, and obstruction may occur. Most often it occurs in people with a pre-existing diagnosis of sleep apnea.Therefore, the vast majority of sleeping pills are contraindicated in patients with sleep apnea. Benzodiazepine drugs have contraindications in their instructions. Even the most modern Z-drugs have restrictions on their use, including Doxylamine: the instructions also say that it should be used with caution in such violations.

What should you do with sleep apnea? For sleep apnea, the method of choice is a CPAP device.Through the mask, which is applied before going to bed on the patient’s face, air is supplied, which constantly keeps the airways open, does not allow them to subside. It is the treatment of choice for moderate to severe sleep apnea.

So, when should you prescribe sleeping pills to avoid the development of these unwanted effects? Sleeping pills are prescribed for acute insomnias, for acute insomnia (during stress, for example, with an exacerbation of the underlying disease), but in chronic insomnia, non-drug methods of treatment have priority: normalization of sleep hygiene and behavioral methods.Sleeping pills are not used.

At present, there are no hypnotics registered in the Russian Federation that can be used for long courses. They are known: Eszopiclone, Zolpidem with extended release and Ramelteon, but they have not yet reached us. Thanks for attention.

The dangers of artificial sleep – causes, diagnosis and treatment

Insomnia most often occurs in older people who go to bed early and, in addition, often sleep during the day.Thus, experts conclude that it is necessary to give up daytime sleep instead of treating the nighttime insomnia it causes.

Dangerous tablets

At the same time, overprescribing or mistaken prescription of sleeping pills leads to the fact that about half a million people take “sleep pills” daily for at least a month, putting their health at risk for no reason.

Correct dosage

Another danger is excessive dosages.A study of the dosage of sleeping pills showed that the majority (almost 80%) of people 65 years and older take an increased dose of flurazepam (30 mg), although for the elderly a dose of up to 15 mg is recommended. Commenting on the specificity of the use of sleeping pills in the elderly, doctors note: “Of particular concern is the regular and long-term use of this group of drugs, which in itself has dubious therapeutic efficacy and leads to an increase in the risk of negative effects from taking sleeping pills.”

Remember: sleeping pills should be used only in a limited number of cases, the increasing frequency of prescribing these drugs to the elderly, especially for long periods of time, poses a serious threat to their health.

Side effects

Some of the most common side effects when taking sleeping pills include:

  • Daytime sleepiness,

  • drug dependence,

  • development of amnesia,

  • increased risk of car accidents,

  • impairment of motor coordination and learning ability,

  • confused speech

  • and even death.

This is especially likely when these drugs are taken with alcohol or other drugs that depress the central nervous system.

Consequences of admission

These consequences, as studies show, do not depend on age. However, older people cannot clear these drugs as quickly as younger people. The elderly are also more sensitive to the side effects of medications. However, despite the obviousness of this fact, sleeping pills are prescribed for people in old age more often than for people of middle age and adolescence.Moreover, they usually receive a standard dose rather than a reduced dose, which greatly increases the risk of side effects. And they take these drugs for much longer periods of time. Therefore, it is difficult to say that it is unexpected that older people are more at risk of negative effects, and the severity of such effects is greater.

Old age is not a reason

One of the biggest obstacles to identifying and overcoming these problems is that they are associated mainly with the aging process, and not with the use of drugs. Deterioration of thinking processes, amnesia or loss of coordination in young people when taking the drug is perceived as an alarm. If the same symptoms appear in the elderly, especially if they develop rather slowly, then the doctor’s reaction often boils down to the remark: “Well, he (she) is already old, what did you expect?” And he recommends continuing the course of the previously prescribed drug therapy, which gradually affects the weakened health of the elderly, aggravating all the negative side effects from taking the sleeping pills themselves.

Breathing and Lungs

Respiratory depression is the second most important and serious problem with benzodiazepines. Sleep apnea is common in older people, where breathing temporarily stops after falling asleep. And if such people take sleeping pills, then holding their breath during sleep becomes less controlled and longer. And the likelihood of death increases, ultimately, several times.

Another risk associated with the respiratory system is lung disease.People with these conditions should not use benzodiazepines. These drugs depress the respiratory center, which can be life-threatening in case of pulmonary diseases. Avoid taking sleeping pills and tranquilizers is especially recommended for asthmatics.

90,000 Why sleeping pills are bad for your health

Many people try to improve their sleep with sleeping pills. But they don’t think about the consequences. How sleeping pills harm health and how to fall asleep without them – read the material.

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

Read also: 5 foods to help you fall asleep

What is the harm from sleeping pills

People who regularly get stress also 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 rather noticeable side effect – a significant decrease in the performance of the brain the next day after taking sleeping pills.

Why sleeping pills are dangerous

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


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


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 after 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 the 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 sleeping place. 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 to improve sleep

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

The benefits and harms of sleeping pills

Many people are familiar with the problem of insomnia, because in modern life, in the cycle of daily affairs, it is not always possible to rest, to correctly plan your mode of work, sleep, nutrition and rest; constant stress, increased emotional and physical stress can cause insomnia, and those who have ever encountered this problem know how hard it is to get rid of it.

Over time, insomnia becomes chronic, and may indicate serious diseases that already need to be treated by a good neurologist at the NATALI-MED Medical Center. Many people solve this problem, unfortunately, not by contacting a specialist at a good medical center in Strogino, but by taking regular pills. The sale of sleeping pills in the world reaches colossal proportions, and only a few come to see a neurologist.

You need to think about the fact that sleeping pills, in fact, can be harmful to health, and do not help fight insomnia.Sleeping pills have become a kind of placebo that can be easily dispensed with. This drug is best, of course, to be taken only on the recommendation of a neurologist at the “NATALI-MED” medical center and not to abuse these drugs.

Below we take a look at the most common sleeping pills.

  1. Phenazepam.
    Phenazepam is well known to everyone, but it has a huge number of shortcomings; despite this, Russian doctors continue to prescribe it to their patients.This drug is mainly prescribed for patients of age who have suffered a stroke and can no longer fall asleep on their own. But after all, behind insomnia lies a huge number of problems that led to sleep disturbance: these are hectic daily activities, and lack of physical activity, and problems with the nervous system, and constant stress and many other factors that need to be addressed with the help of antidepressants, sleeping pills or a good neurologist in Strogino, a psychotherapist and other specialized specialists.

    The fact is that Phenazepam is dangerous because it disrupts the structure of sleep, and even after sleeping for 8 hours, there is a feeling of fatigue, a headache, and a person feels completely overwhelmed: in addition, cognitive functions deteriorate, memory is impaired, the skill of analyzing and reproducing the received information, there is apathy, depressive state, convulsions and many other unpleasant symptoms.

  2. Generation Z.
    Generation Z includes the following drugs: zopiclone, zaleplon and zolpidem, which allow you to get enough sleep without disturbing your sleep pattern.But they have one drawback – this is addiction: with prolonged use, drugs can disrupt the thinking ability and memorization of information. Any sleeping pills reduce concentration during the day, and the most common side effect is sleepiness during the day.

    Once again, it is worth noting that the appointment of such strong sleeping pills as Phenazepam and drugs of group Z to those patients who have apnea syndrome can be extremely dangerous, therefore, before contacting a specialist, it is better to make sure of his experience, qualifications and confidence in that the doctor will correctly understand your problem and, based on the history and examination, will prescribe exactly those drugs that will be most effective and safe for you.

  3. Melatonin and Doxylamine.
    Melatonin is a “sleep hormone” produced by the pineal gland. This drug is effective when a person’s biorhythms are disturbed. Recently, research has shown the beneficial effects of melatonin in depression, metabolic syndrome, and even obesity and cancer. It is important to understand that in addition to a large number of advantages, melatonin is not very effective for chronic insomnia, anxiety disorders, since it does not have a pronounced effect, like the above drugs.

Alternative to sleeping pills.

It is important to always understand the reasons that caused sleep disturbance and solve them: not always a person himself can understand what is the reason for lack of sleep. The best recommendations that can be given are: regular physical activity, spend more time outdoors, eat only fresh plant foods, try to avoid stress, come up with some intellectual tasks, walk more, use aroma baths, massage, deep breathing, practice meditation, perhaps change jobs if she is the main provocateur of your stress.

And, importantly, insomnia can be caused by comorbid conditions, such as heart failure or thyroid problems, which only need to be treated by a doctor.

90,000 A new class of sleeping pills helped mice stay awake


Japanese scientists have found that sleeping pills from the group of orexin receptor antagonists can effectively put mice into a state of sleep, while, unlike the more common drugs today, without reducing their ability to perceive external stimuli.To do this, the researchers injected mice with several different types of sleeping pills and monitored how quickly they wake up when danger appears: when the cage is rocking, noise, the smell of a predator, and a decrease in oxygen levels. The article was published in the journal Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience .

Many prescription sleeping aids for insomnia are part of a broad group of central nervous system depressants. One of the most common drugs in this group are benzodiazepines – substances with hypnotic, anticonvulsant and sedative effects that affect the main inhibitory receptor of the central nervous system – GABA A .The inhibition of CNS activity when taking such drugs also increases the threshold of perception of sensory stimuli required for awakening: this leads, in particular, to the fact that taking drugs from the benzodiazepine group puts people into sleep so deep that they sometimes do not even respond to loud fire alarms , thereby exposing yourself to increased danger.

That is why there is a need to develop and distribute other types of hypnotics that would be as effective as powerful CNS depressants, but would not lead to negative symptoms, namely, impaired perception during sleep.Such drugs can be substances from the group of antagonists coupled to the G-protein of the orexin receptor – a neuropeptide that is responsible for maintaining the state of sleep and wakefulness. Scientists from Kagoshima University under the leadership of Tomoyuki Kuwaki decided to study its effect on perception in a state of sleep.

The study was carried out on mice with electrodes implanted in their brains to monitor sleep. On different days, the animals were injected with sleeping pills at different dosages: DORA-22 (dual orexin receptor antagonist) at a dosage of 100 mg / kg, benzodiazepine triazolam at a dosage of 1.25 mg / kg or 15 mg / kg of zopiclone (a non-benzodiazepine drug also associated with GABA receptors and has a similar effect).In addition, in the control condition, the mice were injected with an ordinary medical solution.

Over a six-hour observation period, mice slept for 160 minutes under the control condition, 221 minutes under DORA-22, 210 minutes under triazolam, and 209 under zopiclone. Longer periods of both REM and NREM sleep were also observed with DORA-22 compared to other drugs.

Next, the scientists tested the susceptibility of mice to external stimuli during sleep under the influence of DORA-22 and triazolam: for this, they measured the time it took for mice to wake up, as well as the time it took to fall asleep again.As stimuli, the scientists used ultrasound, lowering the oxygen level to the cell to induce hypoxia, the smell of fox droppings (predators), and rocking the cell. In all cases, the animals woke up almost immediately under the influence of DORA-22 and in the control condition, while it took several seconds to wake up under the triazolam (and the same was observed for. The exception was hypoxia: under conditions of low oxygen no significant effect of the drug on the rate of waking up and falling asleep was observed.

Time of awakening (left) and falling asleep (right) under the influence of various stimuli on mice from the control group (V), mice treated with DORA-22 (D) and triazolam (T)

Kuwaki et al. / Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 2018

In contrast to drugs that affect GABA receptors, hypnotics from the group of orexin antagonists affect the orexin receptor, and therefore, apparently, do not have the properties of CNS depressants.That is why, according to scientists, the threshold for the perception of sensory stimuli in orexin drugs is lower, which makes them safer: such drugs not only effectively put you to sleep, but also allow you to maintain attention in a state of sleep, helping to avoid dangerous situations.

In the past few years, many drugs have been synthesized that would be similar to those already used for work, but would not have dangerous side effects. For example, in our article you can read about how American researchers managed to synthesize non-narcotic opioids.

Elizaveta Ivtushok

90,000 Harm of sleeping pills: addiction and dependence

Medicines are usually prescribed by a doctor. Many sleep-balancing agents are available only with a prescription. Therefore, it is worth contacting a specialist before going to the pharmacy. The doctor will help determine the cause of the condition, advise on how to change your life so that everything will work out, and only as a last resort will prescribe some kind of pill.

More on the topic: How to get enough sleep? >>

You need to understand that without eliminating the cause of the disease, it is very difficult to deal with the consequences. If sleep problems have arisen due to a stressful situation at work, in the family or in other groups, these circumstances need to be addressed. Sometimes it can be helpful to simply distract yourself or relax. A clear daily routine and adequate sleep time can help. To reverse anxiety, you need to stop drinking tea or coffee before bed, watching aggressive movies, and listening to heavy music.Sometimes it is enough to walk in the fresh air for 15 minutes to fall into the arms of Morpheus in a matter of minutes.

If all else fails, if the normalization of life does not work, it is worth starting with herbal sedatives. They do not cause negative consequences, do not contribute to addiction, but at the same time they give a very good effect. It is only important to remember that some of them cause some delay in reactions, so they cannot always be combined with driving a car.

Special drugs for insomnia can be dangerous. They can be taken only in the doses indicated by the doctor and not for too long a period of time. If you use these drugs regularly, addiction occurs. Sometimes a person chooses pills instead of changing his lifestyle, does not consult with a specialist, and then cannot live in peace.

The drug works for several weeks or months, and then its activity decreases.In order for the effect to continue, the dose is increased. This depresses the nervous system, affects the activity of the brain, which can cause serious illness. But the increase has to be done constantly. But if you take four instead of one tablet, poisoning occurs. If you use ten pieces, then death is possible.

In case of an overdose of the drug, falling asleep occurs, but sleep is difficult. The general state of non-sleep persists, but there is still a heaviness in the head during the day, a bad mood.But it can be difficult to refuse taking pills, since it is very difficult to switch off at night again. This is a clear dependence on the drug, which already needs to be treated. In this case, you need to consult a doctor so that he conducts a comprehensive diagnosis and helps to cope with the problem.

Taking sleeping pills on a regular basis can slow down reactions dramatically. A person ceases to control his movements, is not fixed on external stimuli. This often leads to injuries that result from carelessness.Fractures, cuts, bruises become companions of a person who is addicted to pills.

Scientists told about the danger of sleeping pills for people with dementia

Great Britain,

24 Nov 2020 –

Potent sleeping pills, known to the public as “Z-drugs”, have been linked to an increased risk of falls, fractures and strokes among people with dementia, scientists from the University of East Anglia said.It is reported by “Medicine and Science”.

New research shows that higher doses of these drugs are associated with an increased risk of side effects.