What are sleeping pills?
As the name suggests, sleeping pills help you catch some sleep. People who have sleep disorders like insomnia may take these medications to help them fall asleep. Sleeping medicines can also help you stay asleep if you’re prone to waking up in the middle of the night.
What are other names for sleeping pills?
Sleeping pills go by many names:
- Sleep aids.
- Sleep medicine.
How do sleeping pills work?
There are various types of sleeping pills. Each works differently. Some sleep aids cause drowsiness, while others silence the area of the brain that keeps you alert.
How effective are sleeping pills?
Studies show that sleeping pills aren’t that helpful in promoting a good night’s rest. Most people who take sleep aids fall asleep about eight to 20 minutes faster than those without medicine. On average, you might get an additional 35 minutes of shuteye.
Generally, sleep aids should be for short-term use. They may be most helpful if a stressful life event, such as a divorce or death in the family, is keeping you awake.
Who might need sleeping pills?
An estimated one in seven Americans have long-term insomnia. Sleep difficulties become more common as you age. Approximately one in three older people take some type of sleep medicine.
What are the types of over-the-counter (OTC) sleeping pills?
Any adult can buy OTC sleep medications at a store. OTC sleep aids often contain an antihistamine. This drug treats allergies, but it can also make you drowsy.
Some people take melatonin or valerian supplements to help them sleep. Melatonin is a hormone your body naturally produces that promotes sleep. Valerian is an herb that supposedly aids relaxation and sleep.
Although these sleep aids are easily accessible, you should check with your healthcare provider before taking them. Drugs in over-the-counter sleep aids (including supplements) can interfere with other medications or make health conditions worse.