Many experts are recommending that sleeping pills be taken as a last resort and for no longer than a few weeks. It’s just too easy to get hooked on them and addiction can start within two week of starting the pills-just as they start to become less effective.
Another pitfall is that they only treat the symptoms and won’t solve the problem of chronic insomnia. It can become a vicious cycle once you’ve started on them.
Sleep medications also have potential side effects such as dizziness, facial swelling, headaches, sleep-eating or continuing drowsiness the next day.
The most commonly prescribed are benzodiazepines. This class of drugs is prescribed to women twice as often as men and more often to senior adults. Generic and trade names include: alprazolam (Xanax®), clonazepam (Rivotril®), diazepam (Valium®), flurazepam (Dalmane®), lorazepam (Ativan®), temazepam (Restoril®), triazolam (Halcion®)
So before popping that sleeping pill, get informed. The Mayo Clinic has an excellent chart outlining the various medications prescribed.
You can also try the following sleep-hygiene recommendations:
- Have regular wake-up time
- Exercise early in the day
- Avoid heavy meals late in the evening
- Try yoga, meditation, deep breathing or light stretches to let go of tension.
- Get out of bed if you’re not sleepy. Tossing and turning won’t get you to fall asleep any quicker.
- Cut back on caffeine and alcohol. Both can make your insomnia worsen.
- Make your bedroom a tranquil haven. No TV watching.