Prescription Sleep Medication
Prescription sleep medication can help you fall asleep quickly, stay asleep through the night and get more rest. But some types of prescription sleep medications have potential risks as well, so it is best to use them under the guidance of your healthcare provider.
Most prescription sleep medications are sedative-hypnotics, or drugs that induce sleep. Examples include Ambien (zolpidem) and eszopiclone, sold under the brand name Lunesta. Other drugs like zaleplon (marketed under Sonata) and Belsomra block a chemical in the brain responsible for alertness.
The most widely prescribed prescription sleeping pills are benzodiazepines. Though they have long been used to treat insomnia and other sleep disorders, they have been linked with numerous side effects and the potential for addiction or dependence.
Nowadays, benzodiazepines are less often prescribed for this purpose due to their potential side effects and potential “hangover effect” the following day which could affect memory or performance.
Another type of drug that may help promote sleep is melatonin. This substance comes as either a pill or supplement and can be taken during the day or before bedtime for maximum benefit.
Melatonin supplements can be purchased over the counter or in stores. They work by increasing levels of melatonin within the body, which are chemicals responsible for regulating sleep patterns.
Eszopiclone and zaleplon are nonbenzodiazepine drugs that help you sleep faster by decreasing the time it takes you to fall asleep and extending total snooze time. They’re often prescribed for treating short-term insomnia, though they can also be taken during the night if you wake up during the night.
If you have a medical condition such as liver or kidney disease, it is wise to speak with your doctor before taking any prescription sleeping medicine. Drugs that affect the liver or kidneys can cause irreversible harm to these vital organs.
Additionally, it’s best to avoid alcohol as it can enhance the sedative effects of some prescription sleeping pills. Combining alcohol with sleeping pills could result in slowed breathing and unresponsiveness that could prove fatal.
Other prescription medications that can help you fall asleep include triazolam (Halcion), trazodone (Desyrel) and daridorexant. Unfortunately, these medicines may lead to unpleasant side effects like hallucinations, mood changes and memory loss.
They carry the potential for addiction and misuse, so it is recommended that they only be used under medical guidance.
Zolpidem, commonly marketed under the brand names Ambien and Intermezzo, is used to treat short-term insomnia when combined with other sleep medicines. It may also be prescribed for conditions causing sleep disturbances like narcolepsy or shift work disorder.
Zolpidem can be taken for up to 30 days, however it’s not advised to continue taking the medication long term as it can become habit forming. If you experience any side effects or your insomnia does not improve after weaning off of the drug, ask your healthcare provider to wean you off gradually.