The Trouble with Sleep Aids
The thought of a pill that can solve your sleep problems quickly is very appealing. Unfortunately, sleep medications don’t cure insomnia, and they can often make the problem worse in the long run Concerns about the use of both over-the-counter and prescription sleep medications include:
- Drug tolerance. You may have to take more and more of the sleep aid for it to work, which can lead to more side effects.
- Drug dependence. You may come to rely on the medication to sleep, and will be unable to sleep or have even worse sleep without it.
- Withdrawal symptoms. If you stop the medication abruptly, you may have withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, sweating and shaking
- Side effects. There are several side effects to sleep medications, such as drowsiness the next day, confusion, forgetfulness and dry mouth. These side effects can be severe.
- Drug interactions. If you are taking other medications, sleeping medications can interact with them. This can worsen side effects and be dangerous with medications like prescription painkillers and other sedatives.
- Rebound insomnia. If you need to stop the medication, sometimes the insomnia can become even worse than before.
- Masking an underlying problem. There may be an underlying medical or mental disorder, or even a sleep disorder, that if treated would be better treated by other means.