Sleeping Tablets

You are not alone if you often find it difficult to sleep at night. Like many people, you may think that taking sleeping tablets is the best solution to your chronic problem. However, there are many types of sleeping tablets which vary in effectiveness and safety. Furthermore, doctors often prescribe these pills only for short-term use. It is also important for you to know what is causing your insomnia and to use a guide to sleeping tablets before you decide which to use.

Different Types of Sleeping Tablets

Your doctor may prescribe sleeping tablets to treat your insomnia. These medications are taken shortly before you go to bed and should not be taken if you plan drive or perform activities that need concentration. You must also keep good sleep practices when using these pills. Here are some common types of sleeping tablets used for insomnia:

Sleeping Tablets


Ambien (zolpidem)

Ambien helps you get to sleep within 15-30 minutes, but like some people, you may wake up in the middle of the night. You may take Ambien CR, an extended release tablet, which helps you stay asleep longer.

Belsomra (suvorexant)

This is a drug that antagonizes the action of a brain chemical called orexin, which regulates your sleep-wake cycle. It, therefore, works by altering the function of orexin, which keeps you awake.

Lunesta (eszopiclone)

This sleeping tablet helps people easily fall asleep and stay asleep for about 7-8 hours. Since it can cause grogginess the following day, the FDA recommends taking no more than 1 mg as a starting dose.

Rozerem (ramelteon)

Rozerem targets the sleep-wake cycle and does not depress brain function. It does not lead to drug abuse or dependence and can be prescribed for long-term use.

Sonata (zaleplon)

Sonata has a short duration of activity in the body, so you can use it to fall asleep anytime you want and wake up without the drowsy feeling. However, its short duration may allow you to wake during the night.

Silenor (doxepine)

Take Silenor if you have trouble staying asleep. It blocks histamine receptors and helps you sleep for 7-8 hours. Dosage may vary with your age, health and response to treatment.

Benzodiazepines (Halcion, Xanax, Restoril, others)

These sleeping tablets are useful for staying asleep longer. They are also effective in treating problems such as night terrors and sleepwalking. However, they may cause daytime sleepiness and drug dependence.

Antidepressants (trazodone, mirtazapine)

Some of these medications are effective in treating anxiety and sleeplessness.

Over-the-Counter Sleeping Tablets

Most of these pills contain antihistamines, which can make you drowsy the next day. They are sold without prescription, but you must take care not to take them with other drugs, such as allergy or medications, which also contain antihistamines.

Concerns About Sleeping Tablets

Both prescription and over-the-counter sleeping tablets carry some risks with them. These include:

  • Side effects. Like most medications, sleeping tablets have side effects. Common side effects include drowsiness, dizziness, dry mouth/throat, headache, tingling sensation in the hands and feet, changes in appetite, weakness, uncontrollable shaking and more. Call your doctor if these problems arise.   
  • Drug tolerance. Tolerance to sleeping tablets may develop, meaning you need to take more doses for them to work, which may lead to more serious side effects.
  • Drug dependence. Taking sleeping tablets habitually may make you rely on them to sleep and may be unable to sleep without them.
  • Withdrawal symptoms. Abruptly stopping the medication may give you unpleasant symptoms such as sweating, nausea and shaking uncontrollably.
  • Drug interactions. Your sleeping tablets may interact with your other medications, such as prescription sedatives and pain killers, causing worsen side effects which can be dangerous.
  • Rebound insomnia. Stopping your sleeping tablets can sometimes make your insomnia become worse.
  • Underlying problem masked. Using sleeping tablets can prevent you from getting proper diagnosis and treatment of an underlying medical problem or mental disorder.

How to Use Sleeping Tablets Safely

Here is some advice on how to use sleeping tablets safely:

  • Consult a doctor. Get proper evaluation to find out the specific cause of your insomnia. Sleeping pills are not the first or only of treatment for sleep problems. Follow scheduled appointments with your doctor if you are taking these medications for more than a month.
  • Never take sleeping tablets until you're ready to sleep. Taking these pills can increase your risk of accidents if you are doing other activities.
  • Take your first sleeping tablet when you can sleep through the night. Do not take your first one tonight if you have an important activity tomorrow, since you do not know how it may affect you.
  • Avoid taking alcohol. Never combine alcohol and sleeping tablets because they can increase the sedative effects of each other.
  • Quit gradually. Follow your doctor's instructions on how to stop taking your medications to avoid rebound insomnia.
  • Watch out for side effects. Talk to your doctor about side effects such as daytime sleepiness, so he can adjust your dose or wean you off your pills.

Note: Ask your doctor for advice if sleeping tablets do not seem to work.

Check out the video below and learn all-natural ways to fall asleep and get high quality sleep from a doctor: