Are Sleeping Pills Bad for You?

Reviewed on 3/19/2021

Sleeping pillsĀ are sedatives that may help people who are suffering from transient sleeping troubles.
Sleeping pills are sedatives that may help people who are suffering from transient sleeping troubles.

Sleeping pills are sedatives that may help people who are suffering from transient sleeping troubles. These medications are meant to be used for short periods. However, the overuse of sleeping pills has many side effects. It can lead to addiction, which is a major concern. There are multiple types of sleeping pills that work in different ways. Sleeping pills, such as anti-anxiety medications Xanax and Valium (benzodiazepines), are likely to cause physical dependence. The other sleeping pills Seconal (secobarbital) and Nembutal (pentobarbital) pose a much higher risk of addiction. Tolerance is a common problem with all sleeping pills. After taking the pills for a while, people need more than the usual dose to help them sleep, which may lead to addiction. If the drug does not seem to be working and if people are used to it, they may start taking more than the prescribed dosage. Symptoms of sleeping pill misuse may include:

Some sleeping pills may cause rebound insomnia, depression, and suicidal thoughts. Others may have sleepwalking, sleep talking, and/or hallucinations while on the pills.

Signs and symptoms of sleeping pill addiction may include:

  • Needing to use sleeping pills every night
  • Becoming tolerant to the prescribed dose and needing to use larger doses to feel an effect
  • Craving sleeping pills
  • Ignoring personal relationships or responsibilities
  • Acting confused, withdrawn, or depressed
  • Taking sleeping pills to try to get high, rather than to try to go to sleep
  • Needing to refill a prescription early because they took sleeping pills too often or at too high a dose

Sleeping pill side effects may include:

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, grapefruit or grapefruit juice should not be consumed while taking some sleeping pills. Grapefruit increases the amount of the drug absorbed into the bloodstream and the duration it stays in the body. That can cause over-sedation.

Summary:

  • Often, a physical and psychological disorder is what causes sleeping troubles (thyroid problems, anxiety, and depression) and treatment of this will take care of the sleep issue too.
  • The solution to sleep problems and getting enough sleep lies in the practice of yoga, meditation, avoiding too much caffeine intake (especially in the evening), and practicing sleep hygiene, regular exercise, and healthy life.
  • Cutting down the number of late nights has helped many patients sleep better.
  • Another simple step should be consciously decluttering thoughts before hitting the bed by meditating or listening to soothing music.
  • Herbs, such as chamomile and lavender, in form of brewed teas, may calm the mind and help in getting good sleep.
  • Sedatives should be taken only under the doctor’s supervision and for a short-term.

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References
WebMD. Understanding the Side Effects of Sleeping Pills. https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/understanding-the-side-effects-of-sleeping-pills

HelpGuide.Org. Sleeping Pills and Natural Sleep Aids. https://www.helpguide.org/articles/sleep/sleeping-pills-and-natural-sleep-aids.htm

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