As far as health topics go, few things are as misunderstood as sleeping pills. What you really need to know is whether sleeping pills are safe and effective, and where you should buy them.
Are sleeping pills safe?
Safety is the most important factor when it comes to taking any kind of pill. It’s also one of the most ambiguous topics, particularly in the case of sleeping pills. Due to their development over the past few years, sleeping pills in 2014 are completely different from sleeping pills in the 1990’s. Still, you should always practice caution when taking them. Mayoclinic.org, a website featuring health-related content, states how you should approach sleeping pills:
“Today’s prescription sleeping pills don’t carry the same level of risks of dependence and overdoses as sleeping pills of the past. But risks remain — especially for people who have certain medical conditions, including liver or kidney disease. Always talk with your doctor before trying a new treatment for insomnia.”
Do sleeping pills really work?
Assuming that you’ve already spoken to your doctor, you can start to look into the effectiveness of sleeping pills. Sleeping pills can cause a state of drowsiness to help you fall asleep. They’re particularly effective for short-term use or for minor cases of insomnia.
But as Aristotle once advised: “all things in moderation.” Here’s what the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has to say about long-term sleeping pill use:
“For short-term insomnia, doctors may prescribe sleeping pills. Most sleeping pills stop working after several weeks of nightly use, however, and long-term use can actually interfere with good sleep. Mild insomnia often can be prevented or cured by practicing good sleep habits.”
Is it better to buy over-the-counter or prescription sleeping pills?
Next you have to choose which pills you’re going to buy. There are clear financial benefits of purchasing over-the-counter pills and a crucial psychological benefit of purchasing prescription pills. Over-the-counter pills are much cheaper and may be just as effective as prescription pills. On the other hand, there’s a certain peace-of-mind knowing your doctor recommended and prescribed a specific pill.
But you should also be aware that there are also differences in the ingredients of the two pills. According to the NYU Langone Medical Center, over-the-counter pills contain either antihistamines or melatonin. The latter is a hormone that helps bodies regulate the sleep cycle.
On the other hand, prescription pills contain benzodiazepines, nonbenzodiazepine, melatonin-receptor agonists, and antidepressants, according to the NYU Langone Medical Center. Make sure you ask your doctor about possible side-effects, such as dependency.
So what does all of this really mean for you? It means that you should consult your doctor before purchasing any sleeping pills. If your doctor recommends (or prescribes) pills, you should use the medication as directed by the instructions on the label. As long as you do these two things, you can safely take sleeping pills to get a good night’s rest.
-- Important: 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.