"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Know the hazards of sleep aids.

Some of those prescribed drugs are linked to daytime sleepiness, risk of falls, and more.

Photo: © mokee81/Thinkstock

Types of sleep aids

Sedative hypnotics are available three types.

Melatonin receptor agonists As ramelteon (Rozerem) leaves the body quickly. They goal melatonin receptors within the brain and are regarded as non-habit forming.

benzodiazepines, Drugs reminiscent of lorazepam (Ativan) and temazepam (Restoryl), goal a brain chemical called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) that reduces nerve activity and promotes sleep. Benzodiazepines may be habit-forming and cause daytime sleepiness. The drug can be linked to a potentially fatal side effect when taken with prescription painkillers, as we reported last month. “And there is concern that the use of benzodiazepines may contribute to the development of dementia. That is under investigation,” says Dr. Epstein. He also notes the danger of falling if you happen to get up while using these medications.

Non-benzodiazepines , Drugs reminiscent of zolpidem (Ambion) and eszopiclone (Lonista) also goal GABA. However, they don't last as long within the body and have fewer unwanted effects than benzodiazepines. But they still put you in danger for sleepwalking and daytime sleepiness.

Other complications

It is difficult to stop taking sleep aids. “People develop a dependence on them,” explains Dr. Epstein. “When you take them, they have a temporary withdrawal reaction and can't sleep. But they think it's because they need to sleep.” requires medication,” explains Dr. Epstein.

Rather than suddenly stopping using sleep aids, they recommend that you simply steadily wean off the medication. “Do this under a doctor's supervision, to monitor withdrawal reactions.”

Life without sleep

One well-studied therapy that may assist you to sleep is cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-i). This includes talk therapy to vary unproductive thought patterns together with changes in sleep habits. CBT-i also uses leisure therapy, stimulus control, and sleep-wake patterns. A typical course of CBT-i lasts six to eight weeks.