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Sleeping Pills Side Effects & Risks

Sleeping Pills Side Effects & Risks

Along with their useful effects, sleeping pills can cause side effects, although, not everyone gets them. Approximately 10 percent of people experience common side effects associated with these medications. The non-benzodiazepine class are commonly referred to as hypnotics, because they primarily treat sleeping difficulties. These medications include the following:

Also commonly referred to as the Z-drugs, the non-benzodiazepines are a newer class of sleeping medication compared with the benzodiazepine group. Although they have a different chemical structure to the benzodiazepines, their mechanism of action is much alike. For this reason, both benzodiazepines and non-benzodiazepine medications share similar side effects such as dizziness, light-headedness and drowsiness.

The benzodiazepine group is called sedative-hypnotics, because they primarily treat anxiety. However, sleeping difficulties are often caused by anxiety so the calming effects these medications are useful in the treatment of sleeping difficulties. The benzodiazepine medications include:

  • Alprazolam (Xanax)
  • Diazepam (Valium)
  • Clonazepam (Klonopin)
  • Lorazepam (Ativan)

What Are Some Common Side Effects?

The table below contains side effects that may happen in more than 1 in 100 people who take benzodiazepine or non-benzodiazepine sleeping medications:

Side effect How to cope or reduce this adverse effect
Feeling drowsy or sleepy If you feel sleepy in the morning after taking a tablet, avoid driving a car or operating machinery until your reactions return to normal.
Bitter or dry mouth Use mouthwash without an alcohol base. Also, taking small sips of water can help prevent this side effect.
Headache Oftentimes, headaches are caused by dehydration so drinking more water than usual can counteract this and reduce the likelihood of developing a headache.
Upset stomach Some patients have a tendency to experience nausea or an upset stomach after taking medication for sleeping difficulties. If you experience this side effect, try taking this medication with food and avoid rich or spicy meals.
Dizziness or light-headedness If you experience this side effect, make sure you drink 2-3 litres of water each day to prevent dehydration. Also, avoid caffeine and alcohol as this can cause dehydration. Sometimes, the most appropriate way to handle this side effect is to lie down until the dizzy spell passes.

What Are Some Rare Side Effects?

Occasionally, a person may be allergic, or hypersensitive to medications for sleeping difficulties. In general, allergies affect up to 1 in 10,000 people. Although this is extremely rare, it may be useful to know the symptoms of an allergic reaction. Usual symptoms include an itchy, lumpy rash. Also, a patient with an allergic reaction may have difficulty swallowing or breathing caused by swelling of the face, lips or throat.

In addition to an allergic reaction, the following are rare side effects that may affect less than 1 in 1,000 people:

  • Reduced awareness of the surrounding environment
  • Slower breathing (respiratory depression)
  • Falling, particularly in elderly patients

On rare occasions, there have been reports of people sleepwalking or participating in other sleep-related behaviour. Alcohol and certain medications for anxiety and depression can increase the risk of this. Therefore, it is advisable to be aware of these potential interactions which are discussed below.

What Medications Interact With Sleeping Pills?

Some patients who take medications like zolpidem with antidepressants may have an increased risk of hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that are not real). These antidepressants include:

  • Fluoxetine
  • Sertraline
  • Venlafaxine
  • Bupropion

Other sedative-hypnotics like diazepam may also interact with these antidepressants so the combinations of these medications should be avoided or used with extra caution. In addition, both benzodiazepine and non-benzodiazepines may interact with the following medications, which can alter their effects:

  • Antipsychotics such as clozapine
  • Antihistamines, especially those that cause sedation like promethazine
  • Anticonvulsants for seizures like phenobarbital
  • Anaesthetics which are used during surgery

Non-benzodiazepines like zolpidem should not be taken simultaneously with benzodiazepine like diazepam. The combination increases the risk of adverse effects like excessive drowsiness, as these medications work in a similar way.

The concurrent use of opioids like morphine, fentanyl and dihydrocodeine with anti-anxiety or sleeping medications should also be avoided, or used with extra caution. Combining these medications significantly increases the risk of sleeping pills side effects like drowsiness and breathing difficulties.

Can The Effects Of Sleep Aids Treat Insomnia Effectively?

When people are struggling with sleeping difficulties, questions that often get asked are what is insomnia and what are sleeping pills like in terms of their efficacy? Insomnia is a sleep disorder that is characterised by reduced quantity or quality of sleep, despite having ample time to gain restful sleep. This condition usually involves the following symptoms:

  • Trouble initiating sleep at the beginning of the night
  • Frequent nighttime or early-morning awakenings
  • Daytime fatigue and sleepiness
  • Impaired cognition and memory problems
  • Regularly waking up feeling unrested in the morning

There are a number of different types of insomnia and sleep aids are usually effective for most circumstances. Some medications may be more suitable for certain sleeping difficulties than others. For example, the benzodiazepine class are highly effective at relieving anxiety so this group of medications are beneficial in the treatment of sleeping difficulties caused by anxiety.

On the other hand, the non-benzodiazepine group are primarily indicated in the treatment of sleeplessness. These medications help induce and maintain sleep so a full night's rest can be achieved. This makes these medications effective in the treatment of sleep onset difficulties and middle-of-the-night (MOTN) insomnia.

Sleep onset insomnia is characterised by a delay in sleep that lasts at least 30 minutes. This typically reduces sleep efficiency which is the ratio of time spent sleeping compared to the length of time spent in bed. Non-benzodiazepines significantly reduce sleep latency, thereby relieving the relentless symptoms of sleep onset difficulties.

MOTN sleeping difficulties are characterised by persistent nocturnal awakenings, often accompanied by trouble resuming sleep. This unsettling sleep pattern often causes sufferers to report excessive daytime fatigue. On a positive note, types of insomnia like sleep onset difficulties and frequent nighttime awakenings can be relieved with safe and effective sleeping pills UK. These therapeutics are now available at leading online pharmacies such as ours, to view our full product range please visit www.zopicloneuk.com.


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