General Problems with Prescription Sleeping Pills
There are serious side effects with the use of prescription sleeping pills. Furthermore, these pills can result in dependence on them for continued sleep. Additionally, many people misuse prescription sleeping pills and eventually develop a drug addiction.
What is a Prescription Sleeping Pill?
Prescription sleeping pills are in the drug classification of a “sedative hypnotic”. This drug class includes prescription medications that induce sleep and/or maintain a person’s sleep once they’ve fallen asleep. Some of the prescription sleeping pills that are classified under this category include
- barbiturates, and
- other hypnotics.
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Benzodiazepines include the name brand drugs Xanax, Valium, Ativan, and Librium. While these medications are included in the sedative hypnotic classification, they are also classified as anti-anxiety medications. Again, these medications will assist the user in relaxing and going to sleep. However, there is a downside to benzodiazepines. These drugs are habit-forming and can result in misuse and addiction. In addition to being addictive, these prescription medications can also cause problems with the memory and attention span of the user. As a result, these medications are not recommended for long-term use.
Like benzodiazepines, barbiturates are also not recommended for long-term use. Barbiturates are dangerous for the user due to their potency. These medications depress the central nervous system which maintains breathing, heart function, and other automatic body functions. While barbiturates do cause sedation, they can also result in respiratory failure during an overdose. As a result, these drugs are not widely prescribed and are more frequently used as anesthesia during medical procedures.
There have been several newer prescription medications that have been developed to assist people dealing with insomnia. These medications include Lunesta, Sonata, and Ambien. These medications reduce the time needed to fall asleep. They are not as addictive as the other two types but can still result in dependence.
Prescription Sleeping Pills Side Effects
Like any drug, prescription sleeping pills can result in side effects. These side effects will not all be experienced by each individual user. Furthermore, there is no way to identify which side effects will be experienced without trying the medication.
One of the biggest concerns with the use of prescription sleeping pills is the depression of the central nervous system.
People who have respiratory issues must take great caution if choosing to use a prescription sleeping pill. For example, people with asthma, emphysema, or COPD could stop breathing due to the interference of the medication on their breathing.
One disturbing side effect of prescription sleeping pills is parasomnia. Parasomnia is when the person is asleep but is moving. Similar to sleepwalking, a person may eat, make phone calls, drive, etc. while in a sleep state. Obviously, this side effect is extremely dangerous for the individuals and others they encounter when in this state.
The combined effect of alcohol and hypnotics can depress the respiratory function of your body. When the respiratory function is depressed, a person stops breathing. When they stop breathing for a long enough period, death can result. That is why prescription medications include avoiding alcohol on the warning label.
Drinking alcohol when taking a sedative hypnotic is dangerous.
Another lesser-known danger when using prescription sleeping pills is combining them with grapefruit or grapefruit juice. When you consume grapefruit products while using a sedative hypnotic, the absorption of the medication is increased. As a result, the concentration of the medication is higher and could result in increased sedation.
When Should Prescriptions Sleeping Pills be Taken?
Again, these medications should not be used as a long-term solution to sleep problems or insomnia. They can cause dependence or addiction. If a person becomes dependent upon the medication, they will not be able to sleep without taking it. If you struggle with continued insomnia, you should identify the root of the problem, such as stress or anxiety.
If a person takes a prescription sleeping pill, the medication should be taken before bedtime. Moreover, the pill should only be taken if the person has at least eight hours of time to sleep. Otherwise, the sedation effects will still be present when the person wakes up, making it dangerous to drive or operate machinery.
When you or a loved one is using sedative hypnotics for better sleep, you should be aware of the dangers. Not only can the pills cause addiction or dependence, there are also serious side effects.