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Sleeping Pills and Their Side Effects

Between a third and a half of all Americans have sleeping issues, commonly lumped together under the moniker of insomnia. Some of these people will decide their best route to a good night’s sleep is through the miracle of modern medicine, i.e., by using sleeping medications.

Sleeping pills fall into three categories: Barbiturates, hypnotics and benzodiazepines. All fall under the general classification of sedative hypnotics.

Barbiturates depress the central nervous system and cause drowsiness, but their most common use is as anesthetics.

Benzodiazepines such as Xanax, Valium, Ativan and Librium reduce and control anxiety, which has the added effect of bringing on drowsiness. This class of drugs, however, is indeed addictive, so they should not be used on a long-term basis.

Newer types of hypnotics, which all claim to be non-habit-forming, include Lunesta, Sonata, and Ambien. Halcion, Rozerem and Belsomra also fall into this class and claim to be non-habit-forming.

Even though these new drugs might not be addictive, they can and do have side effects. Each person, of course, will react differently to each medication, so you won’t know if you’ll experience side effects until you try them.

Some of these side effects include:

  • Burning or tingling in the hands, arms, feet, or legs
  • Changes in appetite
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth or throat
  • Headache
  • Heartburn
  • Impairment the next day
  • Stomach pain or tenderness
  • Unusual dreams

Though you may find short-term relief through sleeping medications, you can suffer side effects, and more importantly, these drugs are not long-term solutions.

If you suffer from insomnia or any other sleep disorder, you need to seek professional evaluation and find a permanent solution, or at least one that improves your sleep without involving potentially addictive or side-effect-inducing results.

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