PRESCRIPTION SLEEP AIDS
Prescription Sleep Aids are known as hypnotics and they fall into one of several classes. Determining which sleep aid may be right for you should be left to your healthcare provider. He/She will take into account such factors as your medical history, your deprivation of sleep symptoms, other medications you are taking, and the way the medicine works in the body.
Although most prescription sleep aids do have some risk of dependency, a common misperception is that most people will become dependent on their use. On the contrary, studies show that abuse is low and largely limited to individuals involved with multi-drug use or a history of addiction.
Most prescription sleep aids contain benzodiazepines. These work by boosting a neurotransmitter called GABA, which slows down the central nervous system. These work better than the over the counter sleep aids in terms of less morning drowsiness due to the fact that benzodiazepines leave the body faster than antihistamines. It is the antihistamines that cause the drowsiness. However, benzodiazepines are also more habit-forming than other sedative hypnotics.
Which prescription aid is right for you?
This of course depends on many factors and should be a matter of discussion and evaluation with your physician. Some of these factors are:
- Whenever you take sleeping pills, don’t mix them with alcohol.
- Take care if you rise during the night. You may feel unsteady on your feet and could fall and hurt yourself.
- Make sure you and your family tell your doctor if you develop any unusual behaviors or symptoms while taking sleeping pills.
Let’s now look more specifically at the types of prescription sleep aids on the market today.
Probably the most widely prescribed medications in the United States. This class of medication is often prescribed for sleep problems or anxiety and includes both long-acting medicines (which can linger in the body and potentially cause daytime drowsiness) and short-acting medicines (which do not stay in the bloodstream as long).
Often used for surgical anesthesia, non-benzodiazepine hypnotics are used to cause an individual to sleep, and are often used for the medical management of severe insomnia. Many (but not all) hypnotic drugs are addictive, and are often not the physician’s first choice for the treatment of insomnia. Here are examples of non-benzodiazepine hypnotics:
- Eszopiclone is more frequently known as Lunesta.
- Ramelteon is one of a newer series of drugs that selectively binds to melatonin receptors and is currently the only prescription insomnia drug that is not scheduled under the United States Controlled Substances Act.
- Zaleplon is mainly used to treat insomnia and is manufactured by King Pharmaceuticals under the brand name Sonata.
- Zolpidem is manufactured under several trade names. The most familiar being Sanofi-Aventis’ Ambien.
- Zopiclone is a short-acting hypnotic drug first developed by Sepracor and currently produced by Sanofi-Aventis.
Melatonin Receptor Agonists
This newer class of sleep medication affects the same area of the brain as melatonin (a hormone that promotes sleep). It works with receptors in your brain that are believed to regulate the body's circadian rhythm.
A class of chemically related sedative-hypnotic compounds all of which share a characteristic six-membered ring structure. Barbiturates were first introduced for medical use in the early 1900s. More than 2,500 barbiturates have been synthesized, and at the height of their popularity, about 50 were marketed for human use. Here is a list of some barbiturates:
Although not FDA approved to treat insomnia, doctors will sometimes prescribe them to help with sleep problems. We feel that antidepressants are a huge factor in many different types of sleep disorders causing deprivation of sleep amongst millions of Americans so we have dedicated an entire page on this.
So is Prescription sleep medication big business?
Well, sleep has finally emerged from the darkness and gained the limelight as a critical American health issue. According to the American Sleep Association, every year approximately 40 million Americans, if not more, are afflicted by chronic, long-term sleep disorders.
Restless nights followed by sluggish, anxious days have led a growing number of consumers to seek relief and physical and emotional rejuvenation from a diverse and fragmented market of mainstream and alternative products that aid sleep or relaxation.
As more Americans become aware that sleep is as important as food or exercise, marketers will find greater opportunities for both traditional and alternative sleep aid products. For OTC sleep aids alone, Packaged Facts expects the total market to near the $759 million mark by 2013.
Let us give you a few Prescription Sleep Medication Precautions:
- Only take a prescription sleep aid when you're ready to go to bed and when you have enough time to commit to a full night's sleep. Trying to accomplish other tasks while under the influence of a prescription sleep aid may lead to dangerous situations.
- Do not drink alcohol and take a prescription sleep aid. Alcohol increases the sedative effects of sleep aids and may cause you to feel dizzy or faint.
- Always take your prescription sleep aid as prescribed by your doctor. Changing the dose or frequency of your prescription sleep aid may cause complications.
We cannot emphasizes enough how important it is to consult your physician before taking these types of sleep aids. With today’s internet it is very easy to get prescription sleep aids without seeing a doctor and that is something that we must advise against.
deprivation of sleep |
sleep aids |
prescription sleep aids