These risks include short-term problems such as daytime sleepiness, grogginess and falls. In addition, most sleeping pills belong to a category of drugs known as anticholinergics, which have been linked to dementia and Alzheimer's disease among long-term, regular users, he says. With these factors in mind, you and your doctor can compare sleeping pills and their potential benefits and drawbacks. By improving sleep in the short term, many sleeping pills can alleviate daytime sleepiness and thinking problems resulting from lack of sleep.
Possible side effects may vary depending on the particular sleeping pill and whether the person taking it has other health problems or takes other medications. Dr Salma Patel, a sleep medicine specialist at Banner - University Medical Center Tucson, offered advice to people who rely on over-the-counter sleeping pills for weeks or months at a time. Chamomile is an herb that may play a role in sleep because of its chemical compounds that bind to benzodiazepine and GABA receptors. A man experiencing this problem may not attribute it to the sleep medication he is taking at night to fall asleep, and if he does not mention it to his doctor, he may be prescribed a new medication to treat his bladder problems.
Some common examples of OTC sleep medicines with these active ingredients are Tylenol PM, Nytol, Sominex, ZzzQuil, and Unisom. In addition to this general list of possible side effects, there are risks that exist only with some sleeping pills. Drugs such as antipsychotics and anticonvulsants are occasionally used for insomnia, but there is less data on their safety and efficacy in the treatment of sleep problems. However, this determination should be made by a health professional who can review your situation and discuss the benefits and risks of specific sleep aids in your particular case.
In one study involving elderly people, those who received chamomile extract capsules twice daily for 28 days reported better sleep quality than those in the control group. Doctors also suggest avoiding taking sleeping pills on the nights before making important decisions. Not everyone reacts the same way to sleeping pills, so there is no hard and fast rule about which one works best. Parasomnias with sleeping pills are complex sleep behaviours and can include sleep eating, making phone calls or having sex while in a sleep state.
The Sleep Foundation editorial team is dedicated to providing content that meets the highest standards of accuracy and objectivity. Sleeping pills should be taken just before bedtime, as taking them too soon can interfere with night-time activities.