Medications and Their Commonly Used Names
- Benzodiazepines, which are also used to treat depression, anxiety, or seizure disorder.
- Nonbenzodiazepines, which have similar effects to traditional benzodiazepines and mainly used to treat mild insomnia.
What These Medications Are Prescribed For
- When sleep difficulties cause problems in accomplishing daily activities
- When behavioral approaches have proven ineffective
Insomnia associated with:
- Psychological condition, such as anxiety
- Temporary changes in normal sleep cycles
- Shorten the time it takes to fall asleep
- Increase total sleep time
- Decrease the number of wakings during sleep
How These Medications Work
- Benzodiazepine receptor agonists work by enhancing the effect of a brain chemical responsible for reducing neuron excitability.
- Melatonin receptor agonists may enhance the properties of melatonin's sleep-inducing properties.
- Antidepressants block the absorption of certain brain chemicals leaving them in the blood stream. This helps produce a feeling of drowsiness.
Precautions While Using These Medications
- Blurred vision
- Impaired memory and concentration
- Muscle and abdominal cramps
- Decreased appetite
- Hallucinations or seizures (in severe cases)
- Anesthetics, including dental anesthetics
- Antiseizure medications
- Tricyclic antidepressants
- Opioid pain relievers
- Antipsychotics, such as lithium or tranquilizers
- H2 blockers for gastrointestinal disorders
- Antifungal medications
- Exercising regularly, at least 3 hours before you want to sleep
- Avoiding naps, especially longer than 30 minutes and after 3 pm
- Going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day (even on days off)
- Saving your worries for daytime (schedule time during the day to write down concerns.)
- Practicing a relaxing bedtime ritual, like a hot bath or listening to calming music
- Using your bed only for sleeping and sex
Possible Side Effects
- Clumsiness or unsteadiness
- Drowsiness—more common with long-acting than short-acting drugs
- Slurred speech
- Memory loss
- Odd moods and behavior
- Lack of usual inhibitions
- Drunken movements
- Blurred vision
- Dry mouth and throat
- Urinary retention
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov
National Sleep Foundation http://www.sleepfoundation.org
Better Sleep Council Canada http://www.bettersleep.ca
Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca
Benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome. Benzodiazepines Cooperation Not Confrontation website. Available at: http://www.bcnc.org.uk/symptoms.html. Accessed December 28, 2012.
Insomnia in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated September 8, 2014. Accessed November 25, 2014.
Proctor A, Bianchi MT. Clinical pharmacology in sleep medicine. ISRN Pharmacol. 2012 Nov [epub ahead of print].
Ramelteon. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated January 18, 2013. Accessed November 25, 2014.
Sack RL, Auckley D, Auger RR, et al. Circadian rhythm sleep disorders: Part I, basic principles, shift work and jet lag disorders. Sleep. 2007;30:1460-1483.
Sleep aids and insomnia. National Sleep Foundation website. Available at: http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/sleep-related-problems/sleep-aids-and-insomnia. Accessed November 25, 2014.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 11/2014 -
- Update Date: 11/25/2014 -
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
Copyright © EBSCO Publishing
All rights reserved.