Sleeping Pills are not as Innocent as you may Think

Taking an occasional sleeping pill may not seem like a big deal but for many people it becomes habit forming and they become dependent on those pills. There were nearly 40 million prescriptions of Ambien dispersed over a five year period. Ambien is one of the leading prescription sleeping pills. Sleeping pills fall into a vast category that are considered to be sedative-hypnotics but includes barbiturates and benzodiazepines.

Ambien, Sonata, and Lunesta are the most common sleeping pills. These drugs are supposed to be prescribed for short term usage only and only for severe insomnia. Sleeping pills, which are very fast acting, are usually prescribed to take only as needed but this doesn't always hold true and people start taking them for other reasons and this becomes a true problem.

Addiction begins with a tolerance, withdrawal symptoms, and continued use despite negative consequences. People that abuse sleeping pills will suffer from drowsiness, erratic behavior, possible blackouts, isolation, and lack of interest in things once enjoyed. The brain becomes rewired, so to speak, after continued use so that the user only feels normal while taking the pills.

Changes in the brain can be seen as early as the first time using sleeping pills. The brain becomes used to the drug and each time it becomes harder to quit because the insomnia will become worse than it was prior to taking the sleeping pills. The longer the usage the harder it will be to stop taking them but help is available and it is very possible to quit.
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  • I have found that an antidepressant that is also used for insomnia works better than Ambien or anything else for my insomnia. I take mirtazipine. This is the first time since high school that I have gotten sleep regularly.
  • I agree about taking sleeping meds. I even worried, when my kids were growing up, about giving them benign remedies like Ibuprofin and Tylenol for every little ache and pain. I know it may sound odd, but I just didn't want them to develop a habit of taking pills all the time. I think if we rely on medications when some other remedy might work, it's easier to graduate to more powerful stuff.
  • @jbbarn that doesn't sound odd at all! I too am very mindful of not giving my child something for pain relief all the time for minor things, because of that concept of reliance. 

    I've heard a lot about the incidence of sleeping pills interacting with other drug use as well and causing quite serious issues, which is a concern as well. I feel like any legitimate use of sleeping pills would need to be fairly heavily monitored to ensure that it doesn't get out of control.
  • I have never taken a sleeping pill in my life, even though I have suffered from intermittent bouts of insomnia. My last spell of insomnia lasted for four months, in which I gradually turned into a zombie. I never had more than 2-3 hours of sleep per night, and often couldn't make up for the lost sleep during the day. And if I did, I usually passed out as if I was in a coma for 10-15 hours. During that time I started taking St. John's Wort to calm my nerves, and Valerian to make me feel more relaxed. The herbs started working after a while, and I found my natural balance again. 
  • I think doctors these days are less and less likely to give out sleeping pills as much as they used to. There have been a lot of cases recently where they have caused side effects, especially when taken with other drugs.

    A lot of people think that taking pills to help them sleep is the answer but getting to the cause of them not sleeping should be what doctors try to do.
  • By now, I believe that most people know that sleeping medication is often incredibly addicting and quite dangerous. It's something that people don't want to admit, but so many cases have been in the news and in studies about this very subject. I avoid sleeping medication myself, including OTC options, whether they're natural or not.
  • Insomnia is very real, and about as close to a hell on Earth as you can get. People just never get told about possible alternatives. I am on 4 different medicines that will knock me. Well, they do if I take them a very specific way. Otherwise, I'm up until 4 and then getting up between 5 and 6 in the morning. The point is, my insomnia is about as bad as it gets. I've stayed up 5 days staging through, no caffeine or drugs, and didnt fall asleep until I got a benzo. I don't know how long I would have been up, otherwise. And what I take now is not habit forming. There's no 'head change' and any one of the 4 will work on most people,every night!
  • This is something I am concerned about. During my finals period I constantly feel hyperactive and it's very difficult for me to fall asleep so I wind up taking a xanax every now and then and although I would not consider myself an addict I rely a bit too much on these.
  • Well, I agree. Taking sleeping pills might have some sort of effect to some, but to others, it's really counterproductive from all points of view. Heh, what's more ironical, some even report not being able to sleep at all through the night due to them. 
  • It's well known that addiction starts with building tolerance to a specific substance and for the effect to come, the brain will start needing more. I don't understand why people still use things like sleeping pills when there are a lot of alternatives for good sleep, like vitamins and sport.
  • My doctor has prescribed me zopiclone (sometimes called Zimovane or Imovane) and I've found it to be quite good.  It doesn't have the same addictive quality as other common sleeping pills.  I am still very careful with my use of it though and try to keep it to a minimum.  My doctor only prescribes very small amounts to assist with that also.
  • I don't like taking any form of sleeping pills because it scares me . I know this one lady that is a friend of mine, that would take up to 3  sleeping pills at night and still couldn't sleep. She had gotten so used to taking them that she had to keep taking more just to be able to go sleep.
  • @moreno I've heard of that before so it seems like that's something that can happen!  There isn't the same stigma around sleeping pills as there is around other substances either (at least where I live).  That seems to lead to people not realizing they can be dangerous if misused.
  • I understand that they might not be harmless as a lot of people think they are. Most think that because they need sleep, they can just take the tablets and everything will be fine, however this is not the case, and the truth is that they can become addictive if you're not careful with regards to how many of them you're taking. It is a shame because they should help people, but they are abused far too often these days.
  • The sleeping pill was invented to serve a purpose. Why would anyone want to use more of it than needed is what I want to know. So, you can't sleep, pop one and sleep. Why would you want to step on the gas with something so medicated?
  • Anything can be addictive, even sleeping pills. I think the important thing is to try and sleep on your own first. If you become dependent on the pill itself, then you will have to take it every night. Maybe try alternating it. Do some activities that can make you drowsy. Engage in tiring activities all throughout the day. And consult the doctor about other alternatives rather than taking sleeping pills.
  • I'm so glad I no longer use Clonazepam, I used the liquid version and almost killed myself with it twice (overdosed - I still feel like giving it a go again at times when things start looking dark again).  Clonazepam is a really scary medication, anyone using it should use i with care and if trying to quit it... please consult a doctor. You are not supposed to quit that kind of medications cold turkey. 
  • I do agree with all the posts about sleeping pills; what many people fail to realize is that once the body gets used to a drug or pill, it becomes a slave to it. Many people addicted to sleeping pills cannot sleep naturally anymore without the help of these pills.

    We need to discipline ourselves when taking sleeping pills, when we rely on them for sleep, it has become an addiction.
  • I couldn't agree more. Any form of artificial conditioning of the body's natural functions, such as inducing sleep with or managing pain with medication, is detrimental to one's health. It's just NOT the way we are designed to operate. 
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