Sleeping Pills Side Effects

Sleeping medications are put into the category of sedative-hypnotics. It is typically used in individuals who have been diagnosed with insomnia and other sleep conditions to initiate and optimise sleep. These sleeping tablets are only used for a short time, as many of these pills can have an affinity for misuse, abuse and addiction. Although they serve an important role in treatment, that does not inhibit some patients from using the pills beyond their intended purpose and duration.

Nevertheless, sleeping pills can be safely used when patients follow their health professionals’ guidelines and advice. The low risk of sleeping pills side effects, dependence or addiction should therefore not scare patients from getting the help they need. 

The side effects are reduced further when simple guidelines are followed. Patients must remember that these guidelines will not stop side effects – instead, they will decrease the likeliness of experiencing them. More common side effects are experienced relatively more frequently, but they go away after some time and are mild.

The safe and effective usage guidelines are as follows:

  • Follow strict dosage advice.
  • Do not take more than required.
  • Do not use for longer than prescribed or if insomnia has been treated.
  • Do not mix sleeping pills with contraindicated medications and alcohol.
  • Follow weaning off process upon the discontinuation period.

Common Sleeping pills side effects

Sleeping pills come with a range of benefits, however, they also have side effects like most pharmaceuticals. Patients will not know if they will experience sleeping pills side effects until they try it and evaluate tolerance. Certain conditions, medications and lifestyle habits may also increase the risk of side effects, while other patients may not experience side effects at all.

When using sleeping pills, experts recommend that patients practise good sleeping habits and apply certain lifestyle changes. Not only does this subside occurrences of side effects, but it also enhances the effectiveness of the sleeping pills.

Lifestyle alterations to include the use of sleeping pills:

  • Increase exercise during the day.
  • Do not do stimulating activities in bed/before sleep.
  • Do not excessively smoke or drink alcohol.
  • Individuals should only go to bed when they feel tired.

More common side effects of sleeping pills, such as Ambien, Lunesta and Sonata can include:

  • Headache
  • Heartburn
  • Changes in appetite
  • Constipation
  • Dry mouth and throat
  • Unusual dreams
  • Impaired balance

These side effects are usually not present in patients for more than two weeks, if at all. It is advised to be aware of all side effects that patients may experience when taking any sleeping pills, to ensure that the treatment is not causing any further complications. Patients must also look out for rebound insomnia, as it may occur with certain sleeping pills and when treatment plans are overlooked.

Uncommon Sleeping pills side effects

When starting a sleeping pills treatment plan, medical professionals will disclose the possibility of uncommon side effects, if one has conditions such as asthma. Since sleeping pills cause central nervous system depression, they can slow breathing. Therefore, patients with lung problems such as emphysema or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) should proceed with caution when using these medications.

Uncommon sleeping pills side effects include:

  • Rebound insomnia
  • Reduced alertness
  • Daytime drowsiness
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Clumsiness
  • Chills
  • Muscle pain and weakness
  • Memory problems

It is impossible to treat these symptoms from home, as it requires reassessment from a health professional. They will recommend a lower frequency of doses to be taken in a week or decrease the dose.

Patients should also watch for particular food and medication interactions, which can also reduce the occurrence of uncommon side effects when avoided. Caution must be taken when changing diets while taking sleeping pills.

When taking sleeping pills, patients should also get into bed as soon as possible. The chance of experiencing sleeping pills side effects such as daytime drowsiness and clumsiness is increased when the patient stays awake after administration.

Rare Sleeping pills side effects

Patients are prone to rare side effects when they mix sleeping pills with other sedative medications, opioids or alcohol. The use of these substances together elevates the individual substance’s effects, which can negatively affect the patient.  

These sleeping pills side effects are often severe and require immediate medical attention. If these side effects are left for a long time, it may harm the patient even more. The unnecessary use of sleeping pills can also cause these side effects.

Unusual side effects may include:

  • Type of allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. It includes a range of symptoms that can arise after exposure to an allergen. 
  • Low blood pressure
  • Seizures
  • Visual disturbances/hallucinations
  • Parasomnia. This is a complex behaviour which happens during sleep. This can include walking, talking and other strange behaviours while sleeping. This could potentially be dangerous to patients and other individuals around them.
  • Extreme drowsiness. This may force patients to take naps during the day or hinder them from waking up in the morning.

Natural Sleeping Pills No Side Effects

Natural sleep aids are usually considered safer than prescription or OTC sleeping medications. This is due to the natural aids having fewer or no sleeping pills side effects than the OTC or prescription pharmaceuticals.

Some insomnia patients worry that taking prescription medications can cause dependence and addiction. They are also wary of the withdrawal symptoms when it is discontinued or the risk of rebound insomnia. This is not the case with natural sleep aids.

Using natural sleeping pills normally does not lead to any form of dependence or side effects, as it is commonly used for a short period. It also has a low risk of complications, but it is still important to follow your doctor’s orders when taking these medications.

Natural sleeping aids that can be used in place of prescription medications:

  • Melatonin. This aid can assist in reducing the time it takes patients to fall asleep. This hormone is found in the body, which is naturally produced throughout different times of the day. By taking a melatonin sleep aid, patients are probably helping their body compensate for a potential deficiency, leading to better sleep.
  • Valerian root. According to studies, this plant helps individuals induce sleep faster and promotes a night of deeper sleep. It works best when used short-term.
  • Chamomile tea. Not only is chamomile tea considered delicious, but it is also highly effective in relaxing the patient to promote sleep. A potent brew of two or three tea bags is guaranteed to give patients the full, sedative effect they are looking for.

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Updated: 22nd January 2021
Review Due: January 2022