Prescription sleep medications may seem to be the answer to a good night’s sleep for many people but is it right for you?
In our fast paced lifestyles most of us have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep at times. It may seem like a quick and easy solution to try some of the over-the-counter sleep aids or ask for a prescription sleep medication. Sleep medications will not address the underlying causes for your sleepless nights.
Difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep or getting a quality sleep that leaves you refreshed is known as insomnia. Though it often seems sleep falls last on our list of priorities, quality sleep is essential for good health and well being.
While helpful for short-term relief during stressful times of grief or pain, long term use of sleep medications can lead to either physical or psychological dependency issues. Sleep medications also lose their effectiveness the longer they are taken. This may lead to increasing the recommended dosage to an unsafe level.
Sleep medication can also mask underlying causes for insomnia and lead to problems with high blood pressure, dizziness, confusion or memory loss. Many individuals taking sleep medications complain of feeling hung-over or excessively drowsy during the day and this can lead to problems at work or make driving dangerous.
Some sleep medications can also react dangerously with other prescription medications. Never take an over-the-counter sleep medication if you are on any other medications without first checking with a doctor or pharmacist.
Most prescription medications are designed to help you fall asleep faster or stay asleep longer. Some prescription sleep medications do both. If you have tried lifestyle changes and behavioral options to control your sleepless nights, taking a sleep medication for short-term relief may be best for you.
To decrease your risk of unexpected complications when using a prescription sleep medication be sure to begin use only after a thorough medical exam to identify or rule out any undiagnosed medical condition that may be keeping you awake.
Do not take sleep medication unless you are preparing to go to bed. Sleeping pills do cause drowsiness and can decrease your attention to detail. Never attempt to drive after taking a sleep medication. Complete all evening errands before medication is taken.
Alcohol can be a dangerous mix with a lot of medications and should never be taken with a sleeping pill. Even a small amount of alcohol can cause nausea, dizziness and confusion when mixed with sleeping medications. Don’t take chances.
When you first start taking sleep medications, be aware of any unusual reactions or side-effects. If you feel nauseate or groggy in the mornings, experience any memory loss or trouble concentrating, contact your doctor and see if a lower dose may be need.
Do not suddenly stop sleep medications without first talking to your doctor. Some sleep medications must be stopped gradually to prevent complications or a rebound effect causing more insomnia.
Lifestyle changes that support a regular sleep schedule and a quality night’s sleep is best for long term health and wellness. During times when that just isn’t possible, careful use of a sleep medication for as short a time as possible can help you get the rest you need. Together you and your doctor can decide which options are right for you.
Insomnia, (n.d.), Mayo Clinic, Retrieved online at http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/sleeping-pills/SL00010