Sleeping pills are used for different types of sleep problems. Some, like Doxepin, may be used when someone has problems staying asleep. Others such as temazepam, triazolam and Lunesta, help one fall asleep quicker, and it stays in their system much longer. Most sleeping pills are either benzodiazepines or non-benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepines have a higher risk for substance use disorder, although non-benzodiazepines have the same effects.

Sleeping pills are commonly prescribed in the U.S. because one-third of Americans are diagnosed with insomnia and other health issues leading to a poor quality of sleep.

It is important for someone who is prescribed a sleeping pill to understand their side effects and how to properly take them.

What Are Sleeping Pills?

Sleeping pills are a prescription medication used to treat many short-term sleeping problems by helping someone stay asleep or by putting them to sleep. They are in a class of medications known as sedatives or sedative hypnotics. It is a common misconception that a person cannot become reliant on sleeping pills, although once a person’s prescription ends they find it hard to sleep without them and experience withdrawal symptoms.

Like most medications, sleeping pills come with side effects. Some side effects of sleeping pills are:

  • Constipation
  • Problems keeping balance
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Gas
  • Headaches
  • Appetite changes
  • Shaking and weakness
  • Attention and memory problems
  • Next-day impairment

Not every person will experience the same side effects and the severity differs from person to person.

Do not take a sleeping pill with alcohol, as it may induce a deep sleep causing overdose and possibly death.

Sleeping Pills Addiction

Over time a person may need to greatly increase their nightly dosage to stay asleep, causing a physical dependence on the medication.

Some noticeable signs of sleeping pill misuse are:

  • Cravings
  • Searching for multiple doctors for prescriptions (“Doctor Shopping”)
  • Taking sleeping pills when they are not needed
  • Memory loss
  • Withdrawal symptoms

If someone is prescribed a sleeping pill, they need to carefully follow instructions provided by a doctor or pharmacist as well as the prescription label. Without proper medical guidance, one can easily begin substance misuse.

Sleeping Pill Long-Term Effects

Sleeping pills can cause someone struggling with substance use disorder has a greater risk of harmful side effects and withdrawal symptoms.

Common withdrawal symptoms of sleeping pills are

  • Cravings
  • Depression
  • Increased heart rate and sweating
  • Vomiting

Regular substance misuse may also result in an overdose. Signs of overdose from sleeping pills may be:

  • Coma
  • Slow or shallow breathing
  • Decreased heart rate

One of the more severe long-term side effects is called parasomnia, which are actions and behaviors performed in a hypnotic state, like sleepwalking. Parasomnias can make someone perform an action, such as driving, while being in an altered state of consciousness and could potentially result in harm to themselves or others.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.