Sleep is essential for one’s overall well-being — it helps the body fight diseases, boost immunity, reduce stress, and recharge the mind. According to the Sleep Foundation, lack of sleep can impair brain function and affect a person’s mood and ability to concentrate and process information. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also indicates that sleep deprivation increases the risk of health problems like high blood pressure, stroke, and Type 2 diabetes.
So how about the people who suffer from sleep disorders, such as insomnia?
Indeed, taking sleeping pills can help. In fact, one (1) in three (3) older people takes a sleeping aid to prevent insomnia.
However, while they’re a common remedy, sleeping pills have side effects that can negatively impact one’s daily life and even cause complications if one relies on them to sleep. In this guide, learn what sleeping pills do to the body, the different types of said pills, and when someone needs to take them.
What Are Sleeping Pills?
Across many civilizations and centuries, sleeping aids have always been in the picture — with the earliest attempts involving opiates, alcohol, morphine, and heroin. Although generally effective in helping people sleep, they eventually caused sleep disturbances.
Sleeping pills are no doubt useful in getting some rest, but they can cause overreliance that if a person attempts to wean off the medications, their sleeping disorders may worsen. This is why it is essential to speak to a Sleep Medicine Specialist prior to taking sleeping pills.
Types of Sleeping Pills
There are different types of sleeping pills, with their effects varying due to formulation and the issue they are solving. Here are a few examples:
Daridorexant is a prescription sleep aid that doctors recommend patients take just once a day, around 30 minutes before bed. A person taking this medication must stay asleep for at least seven (7) hours; if they can’t, they should skip it. Getting up too soon could result in drowsiness and the inability to perform tasks that require a person to stay alert.
Doxepin, another medication prescribed for insomnia, slows down brain activity to allow a person to sleep. One must take it once daily and at least 30 minutes before bedtime. A person should not take it within three (3) hours of a meal and if they cannot stay in bed for at least seven (7) hours.
Ramelteon works similarly to melatonin, a hormone the body produces to help with the circadian rhythm. It should be taken once daily, 30 minutes before bed, and never with or after eating. Drowsiness will set after taking ramelteon, meaning that the patient needs to prepare for bed and do no other activities.
To avoid side effects and maximize the medication’s effectiveness, one must not drink grapefruit juice or eat grapefruits if the doctor prescribes ramelteon.
Zaleplon is a prescription drug that helps people fall asleep and stay asleep. It does not decrease incidents of waking up in the middle of the night, nor does it help them sleep longer.
When prescribing zaleplon, experts recommend that patients not take it with or after heavy, fatty meals as it may not work effectively. Also, they advise patients to go to bed immediately after taking the drug because being awake can cause hallucinations and dizziness. If one gets up too soon after taking this medication, one may experience memory problems.
The Effects of Sleeping Pills
The effects of sleeping pills can vary based on the medication type and the individual taking them. Therefore, it is essential to remember the benefits and side effects and consult a professional first.
Benefits of sleeping pills
1. Induces drowsiness to prevent insomnia
A sleeping pill can help someone with sleep disorders fall asleep. Depending on the medication, they can have eight (8) hours of rest.
2. Alleviates daytime drowsiness
Sleep deprivation can leave a person feeling drowsy during the daytime. A sleeping pill can provide a whole night’s rest so that a patient can be more alert during the day.
3. Improves sleep in the short-term
People should use sleeping pills only as needed because they may start being reliant on them. However, the medications can help improve sleep for the short term while a patient works with a professional on how to sleep peacefully without eventually needing them.
4. Helps reset the sleep schedule
Waking up in the middle of the night can throw off a person’s circadian rhythm, negatively impacting their ability to function during the day. Taking sleeping pills can help reset their sleep schedule by giving them more consistent rest.
5. Eases adverse effects of sleep deprivation
Sleeping pills can ease the adverse effects of sleep deprivation, such as loss of coordination, memory issues, or concentration issues.
Side effects of sleeping pills
If a person has a medical condition that impairs their ability to maintain their balance, taking a sleeping aid or getting up too early can make them feel lightheaded — and even possibly fall down.
Aside from experiencing lightheadedness, individuals taking sleeping pills are also bound to experience persistent headaches.
3. Allergic reaction
One must tell their doctor right away if they have a pharmaceutical allergy. Allergic reactions not only result in rashes and other itchy spots, but they can also cause anaphylaxis, which is a serious reaction requiring urgent medical intervention.
4. Tingling sensation in the limbs
Certain medications can cause a tingling or burning sensation in a person’s limbs. This side effect could range from uncomfortable to painful. If they persist, make sure to consult a doctor.
5. Dry mouth
When Should You Take Sleeping Pills?
Before purchasing and taking sleeping pills, consult a doctor first to ensure that you can take such medications and that you will be taking the right pill to address your sleeping issues.
Sleep Ties Health and Body
Getting a good night’s sleep is essential to being healthy. If someone is having difficulty getting rest, then sleeping pills may help. However, it is important to consult a doctor first before taking anything because different medications have different effects, and any underlying conditions may trigger severe side effects.
Consider Makati Medical Center if you are seeking specialized treatment plans for your sleep disorders. We have world-class medical facilities that can help with different conditions, including a sleep disorders laboratory to help get your sleep schedule back on track. Contact us today for consultations and other healthcare services at Makati Med!