4 types of sleeping pills for insomnia (and how they work)

by Martin Reed on 16 August 2013 in insomnia cures

Regular readers of this blog will know I am not a big fan of sleeping pills - but I recognize that for some, they are an acceptable short-term option.

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

If you're looking for a branded natural sleep aid for insomnia, I've heard good things about Serenite Plus and Serenite LT.

Source: Ask Doctor K

Improve your sleep without sleeping pills with my free sleep training. As always, there's more information and advice in our insomnia support group

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