Sleeping pills are medications that can help you fall asleep or stay asleep when you have insomnia or other sleep problems. However, sleeping pills are not a cure for insomnia and they can have some serious side effects. In this blog post, we will discuss some of the effects of sleeping pills and how to use them safely and effectively.
What Are the Effects of Sleeping Pills?
Sleeping pills work by affecting certain chemicals in your brain that regulate your sleep-wake cycle. Depending on the type and dose of the sleeping pill, they can help you fall asleep faster, reduce the number of times you wake up during the night.
However, sleeping pills also have some negative effects that can interfere with your health and quality of life.
- Drowsiness during the day: Sleeping pills can make you feel groggy, tired, or unfocused the next day, especially if you take them too late at night or if they last longer than your sleep duration. This can affect your driving, work performance, memory, and mood.
- Headache: Sleeping pills can cause headaches in some people, either during the night or the next morning. This can be due to dehydration, changes in blood pressure, or withdrawal from the medication.
- Dry mouth or throat: Sleeping pills can reduce the production of saliva and mucus in your mouth and throat, leading to dryness, irritation, or soreness. This can also increase your risk of dental problems and infections.
- Digestive problems: Sleeping pills can affect your stomach and intestines, causing constipation, diarrhea, gas, heartburn, or nausea. This can be due to changes in your gut bacteria, reduced bowel movements, or irritation of your digestive lining.
- Muscle weakness: Sleeping pills can relax your muscles too much, making them feel weak or sore. This can affect your balance, coordination, and strength.
- Weird dreams or nightmares: Sleeping pills can alter your brain activity during sleep, causing you to have vivid, bizarre, or unpleasant dreams or nightmares. This can make you feel anxious, scared, or confused when you wake up.
- Parasomnias: Sleeping pills can cause parasomnias, which are abnormal behaviours that occur during sleep. These include sleepwalking, sleep eating, sleep driving, sleep talking, or engaging in sexual activity while asleep. These behaviours can be dangerous for yourself and others and you may not remember them when you wake up.
Some of these side effects may be more severe or frequent in older adults, people with certain medical conditions (such as liver or kidney disease), or people who take other medications that interact with sleeping pills.
How to Use Sleeping Pills Safely and Effectively?
Sleeping pills are not a long-term solution for insomnia and they should only be used as a last resort after trying other treatments such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), lifestyle changes (such as regular exercise and avoiding caffeine), and good sleep hygiene (such as having a consistent bedtime routine and avoiding screens before bed).
If you decide to use sleeping pills for a short period of time (usually no more than two weeks), you should follow these tips:
- Consult your doctor: Before taking any sleeping pill, you should talk to your doctor about your sleep problem, medical history, and other medications you are taking. Your doctor can help you choose the right type and dose of sleeping pill for your situation and monitor your progress and side effects.
- Follow the instructions: You should take sleeping pills exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Do not take more than the recommended dose or for longer than advised. Do not mix sleeping pills with alcohol or other drugs that can make you sleepy. Do not stop taking sleeping pills suddenly without consulting your doctor as this can cause withdrawal symptoms.
- Take them at the right time: You should take sleeping pills only when you are ready to go to bed and have at least seven to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep ahead of you. Taking sleeping pills too early or too late can make you sleepy when you need to be alert or alert when you need to be sleepy.
- Avoid driving or operating machinery: You should avoid driving or operating any machinery that requires concentration or coordination for at least four hours after taking sleeping pills. Sleeping pills can impair your reaction time, judgment, and vision.
- Report any side effects: You should tell your doctor if you experience any side effects from sleeping pills such as drowsiness during the day, headache, dry mouth or throat, digestive problems, muscle weakness, weird dreams or nightmares, or parasomnias.
Sleeping tablets can help you get some rest when you have trouble sleeping but they are not without risks. You should use them with caution and under medical supervision. Remember that sleeping pills are not a substitute for healthy sleep habits and they should not be used for longer than necessary.