In this fast paced competitive world, people are experiencing sleepless nights occasionally. Nervousness about a new job, mortgage amount due or extra-marital affairs, etc., steals our sleep to a certain extent. Apart from this, throughout our lives, the circadian rhythms (our body’s biological clock) also change and hence, cause sleepless nights for us.
Surveys state that one in four Americans will take a sleeping pill over the course of the year. Taking sleeping pills can solve the issue of sleepless nights for a temporary period. Here we will discuss how these pills work and whether they are effective for long term usage.
How sleeping pills help?
Most OTC (Over the Counter) sleeping pills include an antihistamine, a medication used for allergy treatment. It includes doxylamine succinate or diphenhydramine hydrochloride, and a signal is sent by both elements to the brain to put the central nervous system down and hence, causing the person to become sleepy.
These types of treatments are not ideal. For more serious cases, you should look at prescription sleeping pills and tablets.
Prescribed medicines are also called sedative hypnotics. These traditional pills can be divided into two classes: Benzodiazepines and Z-drugs. While having different formulations, both put down the nervous system and cause the person to fall asleep quickly in most cases. The medicine in these pills will work in conjunction with the brain chemical Gaba, which is a neurotransmitter that conveys many signals.
When Gaba works together with the medicine, it will decrease the electrical function in the regions of the brain that control sleep and this causes the user to become sleepy. Since these pills can cause patients to become addicted, one has to limit their usage to no more than 1-2 weeks.
Are they effective?
It is true that a sleeping tablet can help a person fall asleep and sometimes even maintain sleep but it may prevent him/her from having a deep sleep as it causes the brainwaves to accelerate.
Traditional sleeping pills increase the amount of sleep that a person has, without enhancing the quality of sleep. Therefore, if you find that your sleepless nights are increasing in number, it is wise to seek advice from your physician to determine the real reason for these sleepless nights.
New pills were recently introduced to the market, based on the natural hormone melatonin. These prolonged-release melatonin tablets allow a person to fall asleep while also maintaining the quality of sleep as they do not impair the natural sleep architecture.
Side effects of sleeping pills
Traditional sleeping aids, such as benzodiazepines and z-drugs, can cause many side effects such as:
• Unclear vision and giddiness
• Dry throat and eyes
• Sleepiness during the day
• Withdrawal symptoms
Melatonin and its prolonged-release formulation do not have any serious side effects and are non-addictive.