Millions of people suffer from sleep disorders worldwide, and take sleeping pills on a regular basis. For a short period of time, a sleeping pill may help you, but it is harmful to your body in general. Before you take a sleeping pill, it is important to know everything about it. Consult your doctor to know if there are any possible side-effects associated with it. It is always better to make an informed choice, rather than suffering later.
What exactly is a sleeping pill?
It is a sedative hypnotic. It either induces sleep or maintains it over a period of time. It creates a drowsy effect or sedation, and people tend to sleep after having it. One such kind belongs to the Benzodiazepine category. This is also an anti-anxiety drug. It includes other drugs like Ativan, Librium, Xenax and Valium. All of these are addictive in nature. Another category is that of Barbiturates. These act on the central nervous system, suppressing it and causing sedation. These can be prescribed as per the patient’s condition. However, most of these are used only for anesthesia. These days we get to see newer kinds of medicines. These help you fall asleep fast, and are non-addictive in nature. These include Sonata, Lunesta and Ambien. Halcion, that was used earlier, is now replaced by many of these newer medicines.
Side-effects on our body
Like most of the other medicines, a sleeping pill too has side-effects. You may not be able to judge or experience this, until you have tried it. Some of these pills make you breathe slowly and deeply. So, it may be dangerous for people suffering from COPD or Asthma. Let your doctor know about these conditions before he prescribes a medicine. Sonata, Halcion, Lunesta and other medicines have some common side-effects – diarrhea, constipation, dizziness, heartburn, weakness, headache, burning/ tingling sensation in the legs, arm, hands, gas, drowsiness, dry mouth, tenderness, unusual dreams, inability to balance, stomach pain and others. Symptoms differ from each person and one may not have all the symptoms listed here.
FDA recommends a lower dose for women, as their system takes a longer time to clear those drugs. Also, apart from the above side-effects, these drugs may also affect your alertness level for a long time. So anything that requires alertness, e.g. driving, should be avoided. If the side-effects become worse or uncontrollable, you should see your doctor immediately.
Other things to be considered
Apart from the side-effects mentioned above, these drugs and medicines can have other complex effects too. One such condition is Parasomnias. The person, who is asleep, can start driving, eating, walking or having sex. He/ She might be completely unaware of what’s happening around, and may not remember anything when awake. Some people may experience allergic reactions like chest pain, vomiting, blurred vision, itching, hives, rash, facial swelling, pounding heart rate and others. It is important to consult the doctor if you experience such signs. These medications can also prove to be fatal, if taking with alcohol. This is because alcohol will increase the level of sedation, and the person may not wake up at all! There is a risk of emotional or physical dependence/ addiction. This addiction is very harmful for the body.
Before taking any kind of sleeping pills, it is important to follow the doctor’s instruction carefully.