Sleep isn’t always a simple matter of lying in bed and faking it until you make it. Some people for a variety of reasons have trouble falling asleep. Traditionally things that have been used to induce sleep include herbal remedies, opium, alcohol, and barbiturates. When getting adequate sleep naturally proves to be a struggle, sleeping pills can be a valuable short-term solution. Here are the pros and cons of sleeping pills to keep in mind if you’re considering taking them.
Pros of sleep medication
Prescription sleeping pills work fast and are usually effective in making a person sleep with no extra effort on their part. Just pop it in and you will shortly be in dreamland.
Provides much-needed sleep
Sleep is essential to the functioning of the body. It allows your mind and body to rest and recharge leaving you refreshed and alert. Sleep keeps your heart healthy, reduces stress, helps your body repair itself and so much more. Sleeping pills allow severely sleep-deprived people to fall and stay asleep allowing them to get much-needed sleep and the resultant benefits.
May help with other conditions
Because depression often goes hand in hand with insomnia, taking sleeping pills may help with other underlying conditions and help ease their impact on the person. This can be beneficial during the night, helping the person struggling with depression to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Newer varieties of prescription sleep medication are often considered safer and less habit-forming than older drugs.
Cons of sleeping pills
There is the possibility of suffering an adverse reaction from sleeping pills. Side effects may include:
- Dizziness or light-headedness may lead to falls
- Gastrointestinal problems like diarrhoea, nausea, and constipation
- Prolonged drowsiness or daytime drowsiness
- Allergic reactions
- Daytime memory disturbances and performance problems
- Hallucinations and erratic behaviour
Although they are designed not to be habit-forming, there is always the danger of developing a physical or psychological dependency on sleeping pills. Once your body gets used to them, you may be unable to sleep without them. Your body may also develop a tolerance forcing you to take stronger and stronger doses to get the same effect.
If you’re on other medication, sleep medication may react adversely with them. You also risk feeling the side effects even more if you are on other medication.
It may be unsafe for pregnant women
Many medications that are generally safe for adults, may be unsafe for pregnant women. It’s important to consult a doctor about alternative sleep remedies or pregnancy-safe prescription pills if any.
Precautions when taking sleeping pills
Here’s some advice on how to use these pills safely:
Get a medical evaluation and a doctor’s guidance before you start taking them.
Read the medication guide to get a proper understanding of the when and how of taking the pills as well as the side effects of that specific brand.
Never take sleep medication until you’re going to bed and are done with other evening activities to avoid any accidents.
Take your sleeping pills when you can get a full night’s sleep when you’re certain of at least 7 hours of rest, otherwise take short-acting pills.
Watch out for side effects and talk to your doctor about them where possible.
Quit carefully based on your doctor’s instructions or the medication manual because some pills require a slow phasing out rather than sudden quitting.
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