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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

What You Need to Know About Sleeping Pills

About 30-40 percent of adults have trouble either getting to sleep or staying asleep, according to the National Institutes of Health. Many resort to over-the-counter sleeping aids as a quick solution to help them get a good night's sleep. But how safe are these medications?

Although these medications are sold without a prescription, it is important to check with your doctor before using them as they may cause problems with other maintenance medications. In addition, if over-the-counter sleeping aids are used, it is important to use them safely and responsibly and know what side effects to expect.

Some of the most common sleeping aids include Diphenhydramine (Benadryl, Unisom sleep), Doxylamine (Unisom SleepTabs), Melatonin and Valerian. Diphenhydramine and Doxylamine both contain antihistamines which will make you sleepy but can also make you feel drowsy the next day. Other side effects can include dizziness, dry mouth and memory problems. Doxylamine and Melatonin may also produce the same side effects in addition to headaches, irritability, stomach problems and even heart problems.

According to the Mayo Clinic, sleeping aids should be used for temporary use only--no more than two weeks. In addition, here are some safety precautions to keep in mind when using sleeping aids.

  • Don't use sleeping aids if you are pregnant or breast feeding
  • Never mix sleeping aids with alcohol
  • Sleeping aids are not recommended for people with health problems such as glaucoma, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or severe liver disease
  • Never self-medicate--only take the recommended dosage

DISCLAIMER: The content or opinions expressed on this web site are not to be interpreted as medical advice. Please consult with your doctor or medical practictioner before utilizing any suggestions on this web site.