Sleeping pill and insomnia

Sleep-inducing medications like Ambien, Lunesta, Nuvigil are commonly prescribed [1]. There is no exact calculation of how many are consuming it however it is expected to be around 40 million Americans. Now, the question arises whether there is a risk if the sleeping pills are used regularly. In this blog, I have also mentioned the list of sleeping tablets in the end.

Using sleeping pills like Ambien for insomnia- what are the risks?


risks of sleeping pills

The British journal has done a recent study on patients who belong to HMO. This is nothing but a health maintenance organization and the reports of the patients would be available in the electronic from 2002. Due to this, it becomes very easy for the big study to happen.

The researchers identified that around twelve thousand patients on average were taking a hypnotic drug. Due to this, they went on to compare sex, smoking status, age, and much more. They also checked the twenty-four thousand people who did not consume the hypnotic medication.

After analyzing the sex, age, body mass index, alcohol usage, and marital status it was found that the death rate among people who consume hypnotic drugs is higher compared to those who did not take them. In fact, the risk is four times higher than others [2]. It is definite that the results were so dramatic that the media took it for the coverage.

The researcher who found out this became a supporter of people who are against the usage of sleeping medications like Ambien and Nuvigil. The people would believe that hypnotics trigger a higher risk of death in people. So it is time to know completely about the drug and how addictive it is or harmful it is in a person.

Did the particular trial show that the sleeping tablets cause death?

This medical trial belongs to a category known as a retrospective. In this study, you can look back on things. When you do so it is possible to get the answer to many questions.

The people who take hypnotic medication have a higher occurrence of asthma [3], heart issues, obesity, chronic obstructive lung disease, diabetes, and chronic kidney disease. We know that these medical conditions are associated with a higher risk of death. In addition to this, if they suffer from insomnia the healthcare professional would prescribe the sleeping medications.

The researchers found in this study that the people who suffered from these medical conditions also suffered from insomnia. Due to this, the chances for a person to die increases and there is no proper cause of death is found out as there is no information about it is mentioned in the database.

Are sleeping tablets like Ambien safe?

Is sleeping tablet safe

You have to know that just like other tablets in the market even the sleeping pills would produce severe side effects in a person. But you should also know that the ill effects are very less common and it is manageable. When you choose the older version of hypnotics then you might suffer from depression that is caused by the respiratory system. This is more common if you consume in larger doses.

Even the benzodiazepines are known to suppress respiration and they cause this rarely. A person who is going to take a hypnotic drug like Ambien should be aware that all the sleeping tablets are dangerous when combined along with alcohol [4]. Since depression is a common side effect of the medication there is no proper data on how many deaths occurred are suicide.

Those who consume sleeping medication like Nuvigil, Lunesta, or Ambien should know that it might cause an issue with the thinking as well as driving skills in the morning [5]. The patients who are prescribed long-term hypnotics are asked whether they sleep for a period of 8 hours or not. The healthcare professional would also assess the people on whether they are getting any carry-over effects or not.

The sleep-inducing medication might also worse the sleep apnea condition [6]. You would be at higher risk of getting affected by cardiovascular disease and the possibility for you to meet with the car accidents is higher. When Ambien or other hypnotics are consumed you can see a visible increase in the acid reflux from the stomach. [7] When this occurs, your respiratory tract would get irritated and you would experience a potential infection.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has allowed prescription-only sleep medications for the need of people [8]. However, this is done only after tightly controlled so that there is no misuse of the drug at any cost. In many trials, it is found that the short-term use of the tablets has definitely promoted a good quality of sleep and productivity in the daytime.

Tolerance and addiction to sleeping pills are very much common [8]. This can happen for sure if you use more benzos and barbs. However, after the introduction of the newer classes, this problem is relatively less in people.

What is the first treatment method for insomnia?

insomnia treatment methods

The answer to this question is relatively complex. You have to know that insomnia itself is not a medical condition. The most important thing is that the underlying medical condition should be found out as it is only triggering the insomnia condition.

Some of the causes of insomnia would be chronic ailments that are caused due to physical condition, stress, anger, pain or medications. Sometimes having poor food habits would also cause insomnia in a person.[9]

Once you suffer from insomnia, you are supposed to identify how long you are suffering from this condition. If you are experiencing it for more than three months then it can be a chronic one. Just check on which one triggered insomnia in you. To do so, you are supposed to provide your medical reports and tell about the history of ailments to doctor. It is also a must to inform about the medications that you are consuming. The environment around you is also very much important. If you work three nights a week there are chances that you cannot stay awake at night and you cannot also sleep in the day. This is common for everyone.

But what the healthcare professionals would check is the sign for sleep disorders. To do so they would ask about the bedtime of the person, sleeping habits as well as their surroundings.

The cause of insomnia might also be you. For instance, we might have a habit to sleep in the afternoon. If you are the person who does so then it might not be surprising that you cannot sleep at night. There might also be other scenarios but the reason might be only you. If you dig a bit more there are chances for you to find a useful answer. Some individuals would have a habit of using diaries and in this situation checking those would provide more information about the condition.

The doctor would choose the treatment method depending upon the reason behind your insomnia condition. They would also check the presence of other issues and also ask for the patient’s preference. Only when the underlying cause is psychological or physical is known it is possible to opt for the treatment method. First of all, we would make some changes in the patients sleeping habits and their schedule. The best part is that it works a lot. However, in most individuals, we are forced to choose a treatment option. This can be a temporary one or it might be a longer span therapy. It is true that insomnia is a very serious and stressful symptom in a person. It is a must that the condition is supposed to be treated or else it might get worse to a greater extent.

There are two strategies involved in the course of therapy and they are sleeping pills like Ambien as well as cognitive-behavioral therapy [10]. These two strategies have advantages and disadvantages. There is also some natural supplements CBD, Kratom for Insomnia treatment [11].

Those people who require long-term treatment can opt for the behavioral approach [12]. However, for few individuals, there might be a need to take sleeping drugs also. We would patiently decide on which one works the best. There are chances that some individuals would require the combination of both treatments.

What would be the role of hypnotics in the therapy of insomnia?

The sleeping pills like Ambien come with its instructions. There are indications on how to use and what type you can use. The tablets have opted for a certain reason like how quick it can take action and also the effectiveness period. If your issue is only to achieve sleep and you itself can maintain it after that then the medication with shorter-acting but which acts quickly on you would be opted for.

However, those who are in need of the medication that wants you to achieve and maintain sleep can go for the ones that provide the effectiveness for a longer period of time. It is also a must to check about the interactions and the medical problems before consuming a hypnotic.

To treat short-term insomnia that is caused by jet lag or any stress, you can take the pills for a few days of time and this can be done without any issue [13].  The sleeping tablets can also be useful for those who work night shifts and are unable to sleep in the day.

But those who are suffering from chronic insomnia should know that they might need treatment related to the symptoms. There is no one drug dose that fits every person. So the specialist would choose on which medication and which drug dosage strength should be taken.

Should you stop taking your sleeping pills?

There is no need for you to be panic and there is no need for you to flush the pills in the toilet. If you are going to take the hypnotics as mentioned by your specialist then the mortality is not observed. You can really be safe during this span. There are fatal cases during the treatment only because of the misuse of the medication. You need not have to consume the prescribed medication for your lifetime. Get help from your healthcare professional in this case. Before throwing away the medication in the bin you can check with your medico. You can have a frank discussion with your medico about the issues that you are facing.

So after the patient and the doctor do the discussion it is possible for him or her to change the treatment accordingly to the need.

Different types of hypnotics

Different types of hypnotics

You all would know that hypnotic is generally referred to the sleeping medications. These drugs are taken before you go to sleep and they can help you to maintain your sleep. You can see different types of sleep medications in the market. They might differ in the onset of action, effectiveness period, class, and risks. Here, we have mentioned the common types of medications. First, the generic name is mentioned followed by the brand name.

  • Benzodiazepines (it is referred to as benzos): the drugs that belong to this group would work on the receptors in the brain which is known as GABA. Valium is the drug that is first in the group. Apart from this, there are also other medications that are commonly in use. Some of them are Lorazepam (Ativan), Temazepam (Restoril), Clonazepam (Klonopin), and Oxazepam (Serax). The usage of these medications for the treatment of sleeping issues is reduced these days. The reason is that there are other effective hypnotics in the market that would offer lesser ill effects than the Benzos. [14]
  • Non-benzodiazepine: people would refer to these as Z class and the reason is that the medications that are generic and belong to this group would carry Z in their name. The non-benzodiazepines would also work on the GABA receptors however they are more specific than benzos. Some of the drugs that come under this group are Eszopiclone (Lunesta), Zolpidem (Ambien), and Zaleplon (Sonata). The medications that belong to this group are mostly instructed due to the lesser side effects that it triggers.[15]
  • Barbiturates: Secobarbital (Seconal), Phenobarbital (Luminal), and Pentobarbital (Nembutal) are the medications that belong to this group. The drugs that belong to this group were prescribed as a hypnotic in the past however not anymore. This is due to the side effects that it causes. The most common ill effect is difficulty in breathing or depression.[16]
  • Melatonin: this is the receptor that is present in the brain. Only when this works properly it is possible for a person to sleep and wake properly. In the USA you can get this as a food supplement and it is also available in most health food stores.[17]

1.Sleeping pills. Retrieved Mar 23, 2018
2.Hypnotic drug risks. Retrieved Mar 23, 2018
3.Association between benzodiazepine use and exacerbations and mortality in patients with asthma: a matched case-control and survival analysis using the United Kingdom Clinical Practice Research Datalink.Nakafero G, Sanders RD, Nguyen-Van-Tam JS, Myles PR.Pharmacoepidemiol Drug Saf. Retrieved Mar 23, 2018; 24(8):793 802.
4.Dangers of mixing Ambien and alcohol. Retrieved Mar 23, 2018
5.Sleeping pills might also worse the sleep apnea condition. Retrieved from
6.Sleeping pills cause acid reflux. Retrieved Mar 23, 2018
7.FDA has approved certain medications for sleeping disorders. Retrieved Mar 23, 2018
8.Addiction due to sleeping pills. Retrieved from
9.Causes of Insomnia. Retrieved Mar 23, 2018
10.CBT for insomnia treatment. Retrieved Mar 23, 2018
11.Kratom for a sleeping disorder. Retrieved from
12.Behavior therapy for the treatment of insomnia. Retrieved Mar 23, 2018
13.Short term treatment for insomnia. Retrieved Mar 23, 2018
14.Benzodiazepine drug class information. Retrieved from
15.Judy Wagner, Mary L. Wagner.Non-benzodiazepines for the treatment of insomnia.PMID: 12531036 DOI: 10.1053/smrv.2000.0126
16.Barbiturates drug information. Retrieved Mar 23, 2018
17.Melatonin drug for insomnia. Retrieved Mar 23, 2018

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