Today I want to outline the four main categories of sleeping pills and how they work.
Remember: I am not a doctor. Always discuss health conditions and appropriate medicines with your doctor.
Benzodiazepines for insomnia
Benzodiazepines work by calming activity in the brain. They're often helpful for those who suffer from insomnia due to anxiety.
Benzodiazepines can lead to drowsiness the next day, reduce high quality deep sleep and lose their effectiveness over time.
Nonbenzodiazepines for insomnia
Nonbenzodiazepines help you fall asleep faster by working on the sleep receptors in your brain. They do not increase the amount of time you spend sleeping, and they can lead to a number of side-effects.
Antidepressants for insomnia
Antidepressants help reduce the number of nighttime awakenings and can help you fall asleep faster.
Tricyclic antidepressants can also increase the amount of time you spend in a deep sleep, often at low doses.
Although they're considered safer for long term use compared to benzodiazepines, they don't always improve sleep quality - and they can lead to heart rhythm problems in those over 50.
Melatonin-receptor agonists for insomnia
Right now, there's only one drug in this category (Ramelteon/Rozerem).
The drug works by mimicking melatonin, the body's naturally produced sleep hormone. As a result, this drug is less likely to lead to daytime sleepiness/grogginess.
Melatonin-receptor agonists may exacerbate depression and can harm the liver.
Natural sleeping pills for insomnia
Source: Ask Doctor K
Last updated: August 14, 2013