Side Effects and Potential Dangers of Sleeping Pills

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.

Side Effects

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.


Potential Dangers

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 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.

37 thoughts on “Side Effects and Potential Dangers of Sleeping Pills”

  1. Hi,

    You are very correct, sleeping pills, can lead to severe and unexpected complications as well as some unwanted side effects, such as anxiety, headaches, and even depression. blog has provided some informations on how to cure your insomnia with natural soporific agent. Hope these articles will provide more information to help your reader.


  2. There is definitely a cure, without pills.

    Those who experience insomnia know how miserable it really is. I looked everyone to find a good solution, but nothing helped… I ended up getting a sleep study by Dr. Barry Krakow in Albuquerque. This doctor was phenomenal. He’s one of America’s leading sleep doctors, with state-of-the-art research and cures. He wrote a book called “Sound Sleep, Sound Mind,” that is such an excellent reading… I highly recommend it. You can get it at – I think they’re having a sale on it now..
    Dr. Krakow changed my life… If you don’t buy the book, definitely bookmark his site as it has an enormous amount of information.

  3. The problem with pills is there is a danger the contents could actually have a side affect ( like with any pills)

    As someone that can thankfully say they no longer snore I have tried many products on the market to help my partner get a good nights sleep.

    In the end I just ended up using nasal strips as I am a nose snorer and they can be bought from any high street chemist. As a result I felt inspired to create my own wemsite to share my findings and hopefully provide some of the products that help stop snoring at a reasonable price.

    Please visit

    Regards. John.

  4. Great post on sleeping pills. 95% of the clients that I see are on sleeping pills and anti depressants. This is because most of the GP’s out there are not fully trained to treat insomnia and it is quicker and easier to hand them a pill. My opinion is that whilst sleeping pills can be effective in the short term (a couple of weeks), especially if someone has not slept for days, they are not a long term solution. I believe that every one can achieve good quality natural sleep, even if they have had insomnia for most of their adult life! Every client who enrols on my 6 week Insomnia Treatment Programme recieves a significant improvement in their sleep if not the complete abolition of their insomnia.

    Wishing you the best of health,

    Dr. Guy Meadows (PhD) – Sleep Doctor – Insomnia Specialist

  5. The method of using certain food combinations in order to control digestive problems has been around for a long time. The problem is that so many people get into the habit of eating their foods in specific combinations that they’ve been using for their entire lives that they can’t seem to break out of those habits even when the solution to their digestive problems is easily within their reach. It has been proven over and over that certain types of foods don’t digest well when mixed with other types of foods because it causes a hostile environment in the gut that often ends up releasing certain toxins into the digestive system. When these toxins are absorbed they cause the breakdown or lysis of different tissues over time. This tissue breakdown results in the various digestive conditions that you hear so much about and that cause so much pain and misery. Some of these conditions include diverticulitis, colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, acid reflux,chronic constipation and diarrhea, not to mention ordinary old indigestion. If people would learn to eat the appropriate food combinations, it would mean that their digestive conditions could improve significantly and they could enjoy life again instead of suffering through the digestive symptoms and taking all those pills, powders and often falsely touted “special foods.” It’s not difficult, it’s just a matter of learning the right food combinations and using them. Life will get better if people can just do this. This method often results in not only better digestion habits but much better sleep as well.

  6. I am now 49 years of age and had experience such sleepness night for about 2 to 3 hours. And I had read some clippings that most of my age bracket now really experience such insufficient sleep at night. Well what i did is just have our daily exercise and of course eat more fruits such as banana and papaya and mostly my vegetable is Kalamunggay. Now i have already a very sufficient sleep at night. I hope you will try this.

  7. My mother in law pops sleeping pills like crazy! She takes at least 2 every single night, and has been doing so for the past 12 years or so.

    She is so hooked on it, she can’t sleep at all if she did not take her pills…

    Is there something one can do for someone like her perhaps?

  8. This is certainly a very useful article and one which I would certainly agree with. There are too many companies out there selling pills and claiming they are the cure for all of lifes problems.

    This is simply not the case, especially as there are so many natural solutions out there. These natural solutions are not just beneficial for our sleep but for our general health.

  9. Hi Vishal, thanks for the information about sleeping pill’s side effects. Many people aren’t aware of their side effects and taking it without any consultation from doctor. I would recommend everyone to try natural treatments as they’ve no side effects.

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  10. I I was taking sleeping tablets for 7weeks over the counter for 5weeks then tamaze for 2weeks. About 17 days ago I was waking up with light headaches everyday . First I thought it was because it was the time of the month then not enough water and food I even changed my Matress all didn’t stop them headaches . Three days ago I found out it was the sleeping tablets so I’ve stopped for three days now and thoses headaches have gone . But now I’m getting heavier headaches which is the withdrawal side affects . I’ve been told it takes four days for the sleeping tablets to get out of your system so I’m hoping tomorrow the headaches will finially go I’m sure

  11. It is definitely not advised to take too much of any pills in order to put oneself to sleep. It would definitely be difficult to sleep if you are already dependent on such pills, so it is a must to exercise or keep oneself get busy during the day.

  12. I’ve only ever tried sleeping pills once, on a long flight that I wanted to sleep through, but found it didn’t really work that well for me. I tried zopiclone, but all it did was make me feel a little bit spaced out for about forty minutes before I completely woke up again.

    Anyway, as you say they’re pretty dangerous so I probably won’t be trying them again.

  13. hello.
    i am addicted to sleepers. ill be please dont be mean to me. it takes courage….trust me…
    im 34, female….always been a ‘light sleeper’…waking to the sound of even a birdsong outside the bedroom window.

    just maybe over 1 yr ago…stopped drinking on a w/e and thought id try sleepeing tablets……when i say drinking…i mean that in a way to be merry but not to the point of being sick.

    ….im in the uk btw.
    …so for around £5 i can get 20 ‘own branded’ sleepers…or 16 nytol sleepers which have the exact same ingredients.

    it has to be said…the nytol are horrible to swallow…and the other ones are bitter as hell….and for a few secs i do feel like vomiting.

    but i dont.
    i keep them down.
    …at first i would have….2…..i like the euphoria…the feeling after 20mins or so….like buzzing….speaking rubbish…over enthusiasm…….acting like anyone who had been on the bacardi, would act…….but minus the throwing up etc…
    i admit…i like that….so…i slowly worked my way up to taking 20 . a whole packet of sleepers. 50mg each…

    …..and in my head i tell myself i could not wake up…..if i take any more. so i go down to taking 15 then 10, ….then keep that up and slowly go back up to 20.
    but never ever ever have i gone more than 20.
    its instinct….its to risky…and …i got scared one time when i felt my body was going to convulse,
    i was just on my bed and my head felt heavy and i slowly looked right..and my head nerve was twitching slightly and as i looked up – it felt like the room was moving.

    i just slowly lay on my side and stayed there – until it wore off after a few hours.

    another time….i had an instant bad head…almost megraine….triggered by sleepers…i decided… …took half of a triptan…which was very stupid..
    in about….10 minutes i couldnt swallow..and i was really frightened to fall sleep in case i never woke up.
    i obviously did fall asleep – but lay on my front…i was scared as, i thought i could swallow my tongue and die if i lay on my back.

    i still take them but im on about 8 but every OTHER night instead of 20.
    the triptan exp was very scary and that was only half of one…….it sounds really stupid but had i NOT done that, i think i would have still been taking 20…maybe more….even today.

    i think i have done well on my own to try to kick this habbit.
    i wanted to share my story and i am going to get help.

    what started off as a ‘high’ turned into something very evil, very frightening and i dont ever want to experience that again.

    Sarah, Dorset UK

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  15. I like it. as above mention, my frend suffering frm abdomin pain, head ache, sweating, using more sleeping pills, how to control,

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  19. Hello im in the one who use a slepping fills…. Why this past 3 months i cant sleep and thats why i take this medicine can u help us to stop talking this pills an sleep with out taking this plz

  20. All the side effect of sleeping pills is now i feel huhuhuh how can i control to stop taking fill if i cannot sleep everynyt

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  22. Depression medication, panadol tablets sleeping pills have wreaked havoc on my life. I didn’t need any prescription medication just the resolution of stressful relationship problems, discussion talking about things honestly. The fellow I was with took panadol forte. Prescribed by the doctor but there was never any discussion that the number of pills would affect his liver leaving him angry irrational and violent and I had to put up with it as domestic violence. I was told I had depression and he convinced doctors I had the problem, yes problems coping with an irrational companion. The doctors should have let him know that the tablets would cause liver and anger problems. it is irresponsible of the doctors to prescribed high dosed of pain killers. He often took 6 in a day and then done to sleep.

  23. So I have stopped taking my sleeping pills after aorund 2 weeks of tkaing them because they mad eme feel very weird. they were plant based but I couldn’t stand the after effects… its been 5 days since I stopped.. I feel slightly better but my reflexes and reactions are slower than normal. How can i flush out and get rid of these effects? Also my head hurts whenever I see something I like or get ecited abotu series or ideas.. how can I stop all this?

  24. Hi, there I am so thrilled I found your website. Appreciating the persistence you put into your blog and detailed information and a marvelous study on the danger of sleeping pills you provide. I’m going to share it with my peitents.

  25. My Dr. put me on Temazepam a year ago along withValium for sleep..He also has me on pain meds ( which I doooo need ) for spine disease pain BUT, Had I known the hell I was going to endure from these pills I never would have taken anything !!! My gut is now huge and hard like I’m pregnant,,I can barely function nor breathe and HE has not figured this out as the problem yet,, EVEN after my liver has doubled in size…I find locating a GOOD Dr. that seriously Cares or knows what they are doing !! It is soooo frustrating…now I have to try to get myself off all these meds that are killing me and I don’t have the slightest idea how to do that…I have gained soooo much weight its unbelievable…and I eat one meal a day !! All my bodies problems are coming from all these meds…except my spine disease and degeneration…I HATE that they ever started me on ANY of this addictive crap…but they don’t warn you,, its unreal how they ruin lives that they are paid to fix or save…im literally a changed body now…Ii was better off when I drank alcohol once a week !! At least that didn’t make my hair fall out, cause scalp dermatitis that is so bad you want to just shave your head, get fat !!, stomach bulge, face swell, body retain fluids ect…I was a size 5 when this all began 9 years ago…I am now a size 13 or over and I hate my secluded life because of it…My husband even feel out of love with me and that’s the truth…we are not even together anymore – all because I needed help w/ pain and sleep…It sickens me..

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