Treatment of insomnia is aimed at improving the quality and quantity of sleep. It also extends to helping improve excessive daytime sleepinessevents. Before treatment begins, your healthcare provider should diagnose the specific factors that are causing insomnia and whether it is chronic or not. This is why you should get a doctor’s advice on the most suitable insomnia medicine for optimal results.
Here is a look at the different OTC and alternative compound medications that could help you maintain healthy sleep patterns.
What Doctors Prescribe for Sleep Problems
Upon establishing the cause of your insomnia, doctors will select a treatment plan that is appropriate for you. Doctors usually prescribe a combination of pharmacological and cognitive-behavioral treatment approaches to chronic insomnia.
Pharmacological treatments include sleeping pills and over-the-counter drugs, while cognitive-behavioral therapy encompasses activities geared to changing unwanted behavior.
Pharmacological Treatment of Insomnia
This type of insomnia treatment relies on drugs referred to as sleeping pills. A variety of sleeping pills exist on the market, some of which require a prescription and others do not.
Prescription Sleeping Pills
Prescription sleeping pills typically induce quick sleep in insomnia patients. They also help in sleep maintenance. Here is a list of prescription sleeping pills alongside some vital information you should know about each.
- Benzodiazepines- Also referred to as tranquilizers due to their sedative nature. These are a group of sleeping pills whose mechanism of action calms the nervous system by acting on certain chemicals in the brain.
Approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), benzos are among the most commonly prescribed sleeping pills in the U.S. They help patients fall asleep faster and maintain extended hours of sleep.
Unfortunately, they are not recommended for use with opioids due to the high risk of overdose. These sleeping pills are generally ideal for short-term insomnia treatments lasting between 7 and 10 days. They include:
- Temazepam (Restoril)
- Triazolam (Halcion)
- Quazepam (Doral)
- Antidepressants- This group of sleeping pills is primarily used to treat depression but can also help patients sleep faster and remain asleep for longer than 7 hours. Actually, they treat insomnia disorders caused by depression and anxiety. They include:
- Doxepin (Silenor)
- Trazodone (Desyrel)
- Eszopiclone (Lunesta)- It makes you fall and stay asleep for 7-8 hours straight. The recommended starting dose is 1 milligram or less.
- Zaleplon (Sonata)- Best for inducing sleep without having sleepiness the following day because its activity in the body is short. It sets you up for a sleeping period of 7 to 8 hours. Not suitable for people who wake up in the middle of the night.
- Suvorexant (Belsomra)- Good for helping patients fall asleep and maintain it for at least 7 hours.
- Ramelteon (Rozerem)- Since it does not act on the central nervous system, it can be used for the long-term treatment of insomnia.
- Zolpidem (zolpidem extended release-Ambien CR)- Good for people who have problems falling asleep faster. However, it also helps insomnia patients have a good night’s sleep.
- Lemborexant (Dayvigo)- Acts directly on the central nervous system, resulting in sleepiness during the day.
Over-the-Counter Sleep Aids
Adult patients can buy over-the-counter (OTC) sleeping pills without consulting a doctor. OTC drugs contain an antihistamine, a substance that prevents histamine from activating allergic reactions.
So, OTC sleeping pills are essentially drugs that treat allergies. Interestingly, one of the major side-effects of these drugs is drowsiness, and it is from here that they get their use as insomnia drugs. They are not approved by the FDA for insomnia treatment. They include:
- Melatonin (dietary supplements)
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT-I)
CBT-I works differently from sleeping pills because it identifies the basis of the sleep disorders and proceeds to provide a lasting solution to them. In other words, it tackles the problem from the roots, unlike sleeping pills that only suppress brain chemicals causing insomnia.
The effectiveness of CBT-I is high, given that it addresses habits that keep you awake. Under CBT-I, insomnia is approached from two angles. The first is the cognitive angle that involves embracing thinking and reasoning that promote healthy sleep habits.
For instance, trained personnel can help a patient overcome anxiety due to past insomnia. The second is the behavioral angle, which targets adopting behaviors that improve sleep, for example, exercise, maintaining a sleep schedule, and going to bed only when feeling like sleeping.
The professional healthcare provider does all this over a certain period until insomnia disappears.
How to Use Sleep Medicine Safely
Standard precautions and safety measures by the National Sleep Foundation require taking sleep medication about 30 minutes before retiring to bed. Ensure you have no pending activities such as driving, operating machinery, or other activities that demand concentration.
The obvious reason is that you are likely to cause accidents due to dizziness. Finally, when using sleeping pills, always remember to maintain good sleeping practices like going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, keeping the room dark, and switching off electronic devices.
Potential Side Effects of Prescription Sleeping Pills
All sleeping pills cause a variety of side effects on different individuals. Sometimes, the side effects may be worse if you have an underlying condition such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The general side effects of prescription pills include:
- Digestive issues including diarrhea, stomach gas, heartburn, constipation, and nausea
- Dizziness on the next day
- Drowsiness the next day
- Dry mouth
- Memory loss
- Muscle weakness
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do Sleeping Pills Work?
Most prescription sleep medications reduce brain activity, causing a sedative effect on the patient., On the other hand, OTC sleep aids produce antihistamine which causes drowsiness.
Who Might Need Sleep Aids?
Anyone experiencing trouble sleeping or getting a full night’s sleep, and has tried using CBT-I without success may need sleeping pills.
Are Sleep Medications Safe During Pregnancy?
Prescription medications for insomnia patients are not safe with late pregnancy. However, some OTC sleep aids are safe to use in pregnant women.
Are Sleep Aids Safe for Children?
Generally, insomnia drugs are not safe in children under eight years and are entirely not recommended for children under three years.
Are Sleeping Pills Addictive?
Yes. Prescription sleeping pills are highly addictive, whic is why they are only recommended for short-term use.
Do Sleeping Pills Make You Gain Weight?
Yes. Some sleep aids can increase carbohydrates craving leading to weight gain.
Finding the Best Insomnia Medication
The best insomnia medication is one that can be used for the long-term with little to no side effects. All prescription sleeping pills are meant for short-term use only since they cause dependence when used for long periods.
Thanks to FortWorth Pharmacy, more effective insomnia medications can be made through compounding. Compounding helps pharmacists create more effective insomnia drugs by mixing or altering some ingredients to suit a specific patient’s needs.