Insomnia medications vary in safety and effectiveness, they are rarely used for more than short-term and should be taken shortly before bed.
About 20% or more of older American adults use some form of sleep aid, including prescription or over the counter drugs or alcohol. Many use such medications every night.
Do not attempt to drive or perform other activities that require concentration after taking an insomnia medication as the medication will make you sleepy. Medications should be used in combination with good sleep practices.
Sleep medications are most effective when used sparingly for short-term situations, such as traveling across many time zones or recovering from a medical procedure. If medications are used over the long term, they are best used “as needed” instead of on a daily basis to avoid dependence and tolerance.
Insomnia medication list
The following drugs and medications are in some way related to, or used in the sleep medication.
- Rozerem -This is a new insomnia medication that works differently than the others. It works by targeting the sleep-wake cycle, not by causing central nervous system depression. It is prescribed for people who have difficulty falling asleep. Rozerem (Zolpidem) can be prescribed for long-term use and the medication has shown no evidence of abuse and dependence.
- Ambien -The original version of Ambien works well at helping you get to sleep, but some people tended to wake up in the middle of the night. Ambien CR is an extended release version. It helps you get to sleep within 15 to 30 minutes, and the new extended release portion helps you stay asleep. You should not take Ambien or Ambien CR unless you are able to get a full night’s sleep — at least 7 to 8 hours.
- Trazodone – Trazodone is antidepressant drug used for depression medication. It’s particularly effective in treating sleeplessness and anxiety that’s caused by depression.
- Halcion & Restoril -These older sleeping pills (Halcion, Restoril, and others) are useful when you want an insomnia medication that stays in your system longer. For instance, they have been effectively used to treat sleep problems such as sleepwalking and night terrors. However, these drugs may cause you to feel sleepy during the day and can also cause dependence, meaning you may always need the drug to sleep.
- Lunesta – Lunesta also helps you fall asleep quickly, and studies show people sleep an average of seven to eight hours. Don’t take Lunesta unless you are able to get a full night’s sleep as it could cause grogginess.
- Sonata – Of all the new sleeping pills, Sonata stays active in the body for the shortest amount of time. That means you can try to fall asleep on your own. Then, if you’re still staring at the clock at 2 a.m., you can take it without feeling drowsy in the morning. However, if you tend to wake during the night, this might not be the best choice for you
- Over the counter insomnia medication – Most of these sleeping pills are antihistamines. They generally work well but can cause some drowsiness the next day. They’re safe enough to be sold without a prescription. However, if you’re taking other drugs that also contain antihistamines — like cold or allergy medications — you could inadvertently take too much.
Insomnia medication side effects
All of these medications have morning side effects including morning sedation and memory loss (although they can occur to some degree). When you start taking any of these medications, you should use caution during morning activities until you are sure how the drug affects you.
All prescription sleeping pills have side effects, which can vary depending on the specific drug, the dosage and how long the drug lasts in your system. Check with your healthcare professional about any concerns you have.
Common side effects can include:
- muscle aches,
- dry mouth,
- daytime sleepiness,
- trouble concentrating,
- unsteadiness and rebound insomnia,
- unpleasant taste