By Vishal P. Rao
The popular trend is to take sleeping pills whenever people feel that their sleep had been inadequate. That is why sleeping pills have become so common. People don’t pay attention to the dangers of sleeping pills especially the ones associated with chronic insomnia.
The dangers of sleeping pills range from mild and immediate side effects to some potential life threatening and activity limiting effects. Of course, the undesirable effects of drugs for sleeping disorders depend on the type of chemical used in a particular brand.
Every medical drug is having its own share of benefits and risks with it. The physician has to choose a particular drug whose benefits outweigh the side effects for a particular patient.
Anti-histamine Drugs: These antiallergic drugs like Diphenhydramine and Doxylamine are sold as over the counter drugs. Drowsiness is the side effect of these drugs and so people use them as sleeping pills.
The common side effects are dry mouth, dizziness and prolonged sleepiness. Breastfeeding and pregnant ladies, glaucoma and heart patients should avoid even these OTC drugs.
Nonbenzodiazepine Hypnotic Drugs: The drugs like Zolpidem Tartrate (Ambien), Zaleplon, and Eszopiclone are always sold as prescription only. These drugs are quickly metabolized in body so that their side effects could be kept minimal.
In addition to common side effects like dry mouth, dizziness, sleepiness the next morning, diarrhea, rashes, nausea and vomiting these drugs have some potentially serious dangers – decreased sex drive, chest pain, abdominal pain and light-headedness.
Facial swelling and abnormal sleep behaviors such as sleep driving, sleep walking, and eating are also reported by many patients.
Benzodiazepine Hypnotic Drugs: Sleeping pills with older drugs like Triazolam, Estazolam, and Temazepam are anti-anxiety drugs as well.
Nausea, headache, dizziness and prolonged drowsiness are common side effects of these drugs. Light-headedness, abnormal sense of well being, episodes of amnesia, allergic reactions, facial swelling, abnormal sleep behaviors, weakness of muscles, coordination problems, low blood pressure, blurred vision, and liver failure are other serious adverse effects.
Patients suffering with depression and addicted individuals are at particular risk with these drugs.
Sedative Anti-depressant Drugs: Trazodone, Amitriptyline, and Nortriptyline like anti-depressant drugs are used in insomnia related with depression.
Constipation, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, sweating, headache, dizziness, prolonged drowsiness, blurred vision are some common side effects of these drugs. Blurred vision, cardiac complications and seizers are more serious risks associated with these drugs.
Abdominal Upsets: Change or alteration in bowel habits like constipation and diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and dry mouth are common problems associated with sleeping pills. These dangers are not very serious but could cause a lot anxiety and discomfort in your day to day routine.
Complaints of abdominal pain could be so serious sometimes that people are led to various diagnostic or therapeutic invasive surgical procedures. Liver failure is very rare type of danger.
Prolonged Drowsiness: The universal trouble with sleeping pills is the continuation of drowsiness or sleepiness or grogginess in the morning after you take them.
The morning grogginess is very unproductive in work area when the impaired mental faculties and poor ability of concentration result in loss of your working capacity partially.
Some professions like driving, machinery work, equipment handling can seriously be at potentially life threatening risk due to this simple trouble.
Abnormal Feelings Upsetting Mind: Dizziness is feeling of movement or rotation in your head even when you could be sitting in chair and it is quite annoying.
Lightheadedness is quite common and can be felt soon after taking pills. Headache could be there and you will feel the need to unnecessarily take other pain killers to get rid of.
Blurred vision could be just a simple feeling or it could be related to serious eye disorders like glaucoma.
Euphoria or abnormal sense of well being is common with sleeping pills. You could feel exuberant for nothing. Mood swings is another serious trouble in anxiety and depression patients. Outrageous feelings of anger and remorse could really aggravate the troubles.
Episodes of amnesia are the bouts of ‘mindlessness’ – the person becomes disoriented and can’t think or feel other things during that short episode.
Abnormal Sleep Behaviors: Bizarre behaviors are seen in the form of abnormal sleep behaviors like driving, walking, eating and doing other activities in sleep. Many of such behaviors are highly embarrassing to the person taking sleeping pills and his family members and even others as well. Some of such activities had been sensational news stories and the victim of sleeping pills had been legally punished.
FDA has warned manufacturers of some drugs to notify general public about these serious side effects on the labels of the drugs.
Muscle Weakness and Loss Of Muscular Coordination: The weakness of muscles and resulting loss of muscular coordination is hazardous to several professions like drivers, mechanics, surgeons and other skilled people who need to have neuromuscular coordination.
Drug Abuse And Addiction: Many sleeping pills prone to be abused as drugs and might lead the person to become addicted.
Low Sexual Drive: Diminished libido is counterproductive for most insomnia patients as most of them do suffer from anxiety or depression as well. And satisfactory sexual activity is always linked to relaxed body, peaceful mind and a good sleep.
Persons with low blood pressure and cardiac complications, glaucoma and liver disorders need extra caution with sleeping drugs.
Vishal P. Rao writes on holistic living at relishinglife.com where you can find more information on natural remedies for insomnia.
The Sleep Blog does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Instead, this website provides general information for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of a qualified health care provider if you have questions or concerns regarding any medical condition or treatment.