Sleep Aids

Prescription medications that promote sleep are called hypnotics. These are the most effective sleep aids available. Studies have examined data on the effectiveness of hypnotics and have concluded that they are effective and reliable for shortening the time it takes to fall asleep, increasing total sleep time, decreasing the number of awakenings, and improving sleep quality. This conclusion is based on studies of short-term use of hypnotics at appropriate doses in comparison with a placebo or sugar pill. Some studies demonstrate little decrease in the effectiveness of hypnotics over the course of months.

Using Sleep Aids
All individuals who take sleep aids need to also focus on improving their sleep practices. The sedating or calming effects of hypnotics may lead to falls for those awakening at night. Moreover, many persons taking hypnotics need to understand that sleep aids should be gradually decreased rather than stopped all at once. Without gradual tapering, stopping hypnotic use may cause insomnia to come back. Individuals should work with their doctors to discontinue medication gradually.

Side Effects
Side effects of prescription sleep aids are related to the person’s age, dose, and type of hypnotic prescribed. Selecting the proper dose is especially important for older people. When hypnotics stay in the body longer, they remain active and can cause daytime sleepiness or forgetfulness. Younger people can be at risk for side effects too. People who use higher doses tend to experience more side effects.

Sleep Aids
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