About ten percent of Americans have chronic insomnia disorder while 15 to 20 percent experience short-term insomnia that lasts for less than 3 months. Being unable to sleep at night is not only agonizing, it is also associated with numerous health problems including obesity, depression and heart attacks.
Luckily, advances in medicine have created safe and effective sleeping medications that can help with insomnia. Even more amazing is how well modern sleep medicines target specific sleeping problems. For instance, the doctor may prescribe a certain medication if one has trouble falling asleep and another if the problem is in staying asleep through the night.
But despite the beneficial developments, it can be still a challenge to choose the right sleeping pills that will be effective and safe. Below is a brief look at the factors to consider when choosing the right sleep medication.
Types of Sleeping Pills
Most types of sleep medications used decades ago were dangerous and highly addictive. It was not until the 1970s that important advances were made to create the safe sleeping pills available today. One of the earliest classes of modern sleeping pills was the benzodiazepine drugs.
They were safer than the previously used barbiturates but still had issues with dependence and withdrawal symptoms. In most cases, insomnia rebound would occur as a withdrawal symptom. The FDA approved them only for use for short periods of time, usually two weeks.
In the 1990s, another class of sleeping medications was made. The nonbenzodiazepines (also called Z drugs) have less common side-effects and milder withdrawal effects as benzodiazepines and barbiturates. The most popular of the Z drugs was Ambien.
With time, other better and more targeted nonbenzodiazepines have emerged. Most of them have no restrictions on period of use and newer ones do not carry any danger of abuse.
Classes of sleeping drugs are:
• Selective GABA Medicines
– these target certain receptors in the brain referred to as GABA receptors. Brands in this class include Ambien, Ambien CR, Lunesta and Sonata.