If your sleep is interrupted by chronic snoring or worse, sleep apnea, or if you have insomnia or other causes that keep you from getting a good night’s rest, your first impulse — and perhaps your primary physician’s as well — might be to reach out for a sleeping aid, commonly called sleeping pills.
Most sleeping pills are known as “sedative hypnotics” (thus the reference above to “You are getting very sleepy,” a filmland catchphrase for hypnotists). Sedative hypnotics include benzodiazepines, barbiturates, and various hypnotics.
Benzodiazepines include Xanax and Valium and are referred to as anti-anxiety drugs, but in reducing anxiety they can also help induce sleepiness. Barbiturates depress the central nervous system and are often use as anesthesias, though they certainly can on a short term help with sleep. Both these classes of drugs can be addictive, however.
On the modern front, drugs like Lunesta, Sonata, Halcion and Ambien are non-habit-forming and do help people fall asleep faster. Problem is, even with these non-habit-forming medications, there are any number of associated side effects, including:
- Burning or tingling in the hands, arms, feet or legs
- Changes in appetite
- Dry mouth or throat
- Stomach pain or tenderness
- Uncontrollable shaking of a part of the body
- Unusual dreams
- Parasomnia (sleep walking and other events)
- Painful allergic reactions
Anyway, you get the idea. Even if modern sleeping aids aren’t habit forming, they’re not something you want to depend on, or worse, get hooked on. The more you take them, and the stronger the dose, the more the side effects listed above may manifest themselves.
While you and your primary physician might settle on sleeping aids for a short-term “fix,” for your own health and enjoyment of daily life, you should find out what’s causing your sleeping problems and get that “fixed” for good. Have your doctor refer you to a sleep professional, or seek one out yourself.
Often simple in-office procedures can lead to years of relief from interrupted sleep due to chronic snoring, sleep apnea, nasal and breathing problems and more. That’s why you need to seek out the root cause of your poor sleeping pattern. Make a commitment today to take care of the underlying problem and leave those medicines in the bathroom cabinet where they belong.