Sleeping Pills – FAQ

All sleeping pills are used to help people who suffer with some form or degree of insomnia, a condition that sees them having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep for an entire night.

In general, most sleeping pills fall into two categories – those sold over the counter and those that are available by prescription only.

Over-the-counter (OTC) sleeping pills are best used for relief from temporary bouts of sleeplessness and not recommended for chronic insomnia. Common brand names include Nytol, Unisom, and Sominex. Some other OTC products are touted to act as sleep aids along with providing pain relief – products like Aleve PM or Tylenol PM. These are not true sleeping pills as their primary purpose is to provide pain relief and they should be treated as such.

Prescription sleeping pills are drugs classified as either benzodiazepines (benzos) or non-benzodiazepines (non-benzos). These drugs work by stimulating the GABA receptor in the user’s brain which then increases the sleep-inducing chemicals needed for a full night of rest. Each is used short-term to help individuals suffering from symptoms of insomnia. Insomnia is a result of a disruption of the body’s circadian rhythm – a 24-hour wake/sleep cycle that all humans experience. During the sleep cycling, an individual’s body produces melatonin. When interrupted, melatonin production is delayed which in turn interrupts the person’s ability to fall asleep or sleep soundly. Unlike the benzo/non-benzo drugs, Rozerem (ramelteon) is a newer sleeping pill designed to trigger melatonin production. Additionally, and again unlike the others, use of Rozerem is unrestricted while the others are typically viable treatment options for no more than two weeks. This is where a problem lies with sleeping pills other than Rozerem – the potential for misuse and addiction.

Since the longest continual recommended use is for not more than two weeks, many people quickly become dependent on the drugs and continue to take them. They soon find that a dependency has formed as sleep without taking these pills becomes near-to-impossible. With this dependency has come an addiction and help to break this cycle may need to be sought out.

Reliance on using sleeping pills or a reluctance to discontinue their use is problematic – but help to break this cycle is available. To learn more, check out frequently asked questions provided or contact a representative at The Recovery Village to learn about options for recovery.