About half of all Americans complain of disturbed sleep, poor sleeping patterns or insomnia. While sleeping pills often provide a much needed relief from sleeplessness, the side effects and potential dangers of sleeping pills should not be overlooked. Sleeping pills are generally meant for short-term use. If you suffer from insomnia sleeping pills will only temporarily solve the problem. You should consult our health practitioner for professional advice, and to find out whether your insomnia is a symptom for an underlying medical condition. It is important for you to know all about the side effects of sleeping pills so that you are well- aware of how much you can safely consume without jeopardizing your health.
What’s in Sleeping Pills?
Prescription sleeping pills may be of three types: those that help you fall asleep such as Eszopiclone (Lunesta), Ramelteon (Rozerem), Triazolam (Halcion), Zaleplon (Sonata), and Zolpidem (Ambien, Edluar); those that help you stay asleep such as Estazolam, Eszopiclone (Lunesta), Temazepam (Restoril), Zolpidem (Ambien CR), and Doxepin (Silenor); and those that include both functions.
Sleeping pills are consequently known as ‘sedative hypnotics’. Pills that help people sleep (benzodiazepines) are also used as anti-anxiety medications. Barbiturates, which depress the central nervous system and cause sedation, are commonly used as anesthetics but can also be prescribed as sleeping pills.
They have the potential to be addictive and should be used carefully. Fortunately, newer versions have minimized the dangers of sleeping pills such as the risk of overdosing and addiction. However, potential side effects of sleeping pills still need to be taken into account.
What Dosage is Safe?
How many sleeping pills can you safely take without jeopardizing your health? Following the guidelines established by your health practitioner is of prime importance. The side effects of sleeping pills vary from individual to individual depending on their health and medical condition. Patients with medical conditions such as liver disease, kidney disease, asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) will have a different set of guidelines than someone who is simply unable to sleep through the night in peace.
An overdose occurs when sleeping pills are taken over the prescribed safety levels. When taken in combination with alcohol or other drugs, the dangers of sleeping pills are further amplified up to the point of being potentially fatal. The signs of an overdose include:
- Slurred speech
- Difficulty breathing
- Disorientation- inability to think clearly or respond properly.
An overdose requires emergency medical attention and hospitalization until the individual is out of danger.
What Are The Side Effects Of Sleeping Pills?
Every medication has its own set of side effects, and sleeping pills are no different. The following side effects have been identified by experts at Mayo Clinic and WebMD:
- Gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea and nausea
- Severe allergic reactions
- Drowsiness that has a lingering effect
- Sleep behaviors such as sleep eating
- Problems with memory and performance during the day
- Burning or tingling in the arms, feet, legs and hands.
- Appetite changes
- Inability to or difficulty in maintaining balance.
- Unusual dreams
- Overall bodily weakness
- Trembling and shaking of one part of the body
- Stomach pain
Mayo Clinic- sleeping pills
WebMD- understanding the side effects of sleeping pills
about.com- the dangers of sedatives overdose