I know that many of my readers take at least one type of medication to help them sleep, so I thought I'd put something together about the more popular options and how they affect the body.
First, it's important to remember that benzodiazepines (zaleplon/Sonata, zolpidem/Ambien, and eszopiclone/Lunesta) should never be mixed with antihistamines or anti nausea drugs since this can trigger sleepwalking, sleep driving and sleep eating in around 1 in 1,000 people.
Intermezzo (a sublingual version of Ambien) has a two and a half hour half-life, so it can be effective at helping you fall asleep if you awaken during the night (make sure you still have at least four hours left in bed).
Sonata has a one hour half-life, so that drug can also be used during the night.
Some doctors recommend avoiding benzodiazepines with longer half-lives, since they can have too much of an impact on our daily lives; they can cause daytime sleepiness and cognitive impairment - particularly in older patients who may have more difficulty metabolizing them. There is also a very real risk of rebound insomnia when a patient tries to come off these drugs.
Ramelteon affects melatonin receptors and should not lead to daytime sleepiness. That being said, it is metabolized in the liver so it isn't suitable for those with liver disease.
Some anti-depressants can be effective at treating insomnia if taken at lower doses - particularly Silenor, which was approved as an insomnia treatment in 2010 at doses of 3mg and 6mg.
For more, check out my list of over the counter sleeping pills and prescription sleep aids.
As always, you should work with your doctor to determine the treatment option that's right for you.
Source: Family Practice News
Last updated: February 17, 2013