Are sleeping pills OK to take?

          Humans sleep when they are tired and because sleep is part of a human life to end the day. Sleep is important for the human body to rest and reset. A good quality of sleep will make a person energised for the next day. The inability to have a good quality sleep not only affects a person’s life the next day but also in the long run. Studies show that lack of sleep is linked to many chronic health problems such as heart diseases, kidney diseases, obesity and mental illness such as depression. Hence, medicine is available to help a person improve their sleep quality. The question now is, is sleeping pills OK to take?

          Before getting that answer, maybe you want to know a bit more about sleeping pills first. Sleeping pills, as the name implies, help a person to fall asleep or stay asleep longer. Sleeping pills is usually associated with sleeping disorders such as insomnia as its treatment. Sleeping pills typically are available upon prescription but some are actually available as over-the-counter (OTC) medicines. Common sleeping pills such as benzodiazepines are one of the most prescribed medications for sleeping pills. OTC medicine such as melatonin and antihistamine is also used as sleeping pills as it gives the effect of what sleeping pills can do even if it is not designed to be a sleeping pill.

          Sleeping pills are OK to take as long as it is used for short term only. Do bear in mind that sleeping pills help to improve sleep quality but do not treat the cause of the sleep issues. For example, people with insomnia have trouble falling asleep because of their depression that has been diagnosed by a psychiatrist. In this case, sleeping pills can help them fall asleep faster or help them sleep longer without waking up in the middle of the night. However, if the cause of the sleep issues which is depression is not treated, the insomnia episode will persist and taking sleeping pills eventually will not be the wise solution in the long run. This is because sleeping pills may make a person dependent on them. It will become less effective over time and a person may be unable to sleep well when not taking the sleeping pills. In fact, some may even feel extremely unwell or worse insomnia when they attempt to stop.

          Another downside of sleeping pills is it may make a person feel dizzy and affect their concentration level in daytime. This will further increase risk of accidents and affect a person’s ability to perform daily tasks. Sleeping pills is also associated with the risk of experiencing parasomnias. Parasomnias is defined as unusual behaviour that occurs in their sleep such as sleepwalking or sleep eating, some even sleep driving that may pose danger. Hence, to take sleeping pills is to only take it for a short time which is around for a maximum of 2 weeks to 2 months only to minimise these downside effects. Taking it in the long run will not increase the effectiveness of the medicine, instead, will make a person need stronger sleeping pills which is not the best idea. If such sleeping pills are meant to be taken for a longer period of time as instructed by doctors, do talk with your healthcare provider on how to make sure the sleeping pills work safely and do not cause dependency.

          It can be concluded that sleeping pills are OK to take as long as it is taken for a brief period. Sleeping pills work to improve sleep quality and should not be solely used to treat the root cause of the sleeping problems. The best way to take sleeping pills is to take them safely. This is done by speaking to a doctor regarding sleep issues. Doctors can help point out the root cause of the sleep problems and prescribe sleeping pills that work best. Remember to ask how long to take the sleeping pills and how to stop taking it without experiencing further unwanted side effects. Take sleeping pills as prescribed. If a person does have other medical conditions and is taking other medications, do let the doctors know so that adjustments can be made and adverse drug interaction can be avoided. If you are not keen on taking sleeping pills, try asking doctors what you can do to help improve sleep.

             Sleeping pills is only one of the ways to help fix sleep quality. Furthermore, sleeping pills should be used along with other treatments or therapy to effectively improve a person’s sleep quality. Besides taking sleeping pills, meeting a psychiatrist, psychologist or therapist can help point out issues that need to be addressed with sleeping problems. They are able to provide cognitive therapy or behavioural therapy if it is needed. Sometimes, improving sleeping routine and sleep hygiene is enough to address insomnia. This includes optimising sleep schedule and having a bed routine such as keeping the bedroom dark by keeping away from bright lights including from smartphone, quiet by playing soft music and relaxing by using calming scent such as lavender. Sleep hygiene can look different for everyone, hence, finding what works best by testing out different approaches can help shape what an ideal sleep hygiene looks like.