If you are constantly reaching for a bottle of sleep meds every night, here’s something you need to know.
More and more Americans are looking to prescription and over the counter sleeping drugs to improve their sleep, with over a third of the population failing to consistently get the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.
While sleep meds can be effective in helping you fall asleep, there are some serious side effects which you should be mindful of.
Before taking a look at the different side effects you may experience, it’s important to stress that the most serious side effects usually only manifest if sleep meds are taken longer than prescribed (or longer than the manufacturer’s guidelines), or if you take too large a dose.
Furthermore, it’s important to realize the difference between prescription sleeping drugs and over-the-counter sedatives work.
As you probably know, over the counter drugs can simply be purchased from a specialized drug store, a supermarket or online, whereas prescription sedatives can only be purchased if you have a prescription for a specific drug from your doctor.
This is because prescription sleeping drugs, such as Ambien, are typically considerably more potent than over the counter drugs, like Benadryl – and they also make your body feel sleepy in different ways.
Most sleeping aids work by slowing down signals to and from the brain to the rest of your central nervous system (CNS), which in turn makes you feel drowsy and ready to sleep.
Side Effects of Prescription Sleeping Meds
Prescription sleeping drugs should only be taken for up to a month unless a doctor reexamines you and deems it safe for you to continue taking a particular drug.
Prolonged use of a prescription sleeping drug (or a combination of drugs) can lead to many side effects, such as severe headaches, nausea, hallucinations and deteriorating mental health.
Additionally, taking prescription sleeping drugs while pregnant or while taking other medication can lead to other serious side effects, so it’s important to speak to your doctor and be completely transparent with them.
Side Effects of Over the Counter Drugs
Despite not being as strong as prescription sleeping meds, the over the counter alternatives can also lead to serious side effects, especially if they are abused or used for a long period of time.
Furthermore, it is possible to get addicted and become dependent on these drugs, so it’s important to always stay within the recommended dosage and to consult with a doctor if you plan on taking a sedative for longer than the recommended course.
As for the symptoms of over the counter drugs, they are similar to those of prescription sedatives and include others like dry mouth, daytime drowsiness, urinary retention and blurred vision.
Natural Sedatives Instead of Sleep Meds
If you’re looking for a natural sedative to help you improve your sleep, Cannabinol (CBN) can be a good option with few known side effects.
CBN can be taken in various different forms, but most commonly as an oil or tincture, and it can be purchased online or from certain stores across the US.
If you’d like to first try a less potent and more readily available natural sedative, passionflower and chamomile are good options, especially if you are a big fan of tea.
A Quick Summary
- Sleeping drugs are not without their risks, especially if you take them for a prolonged period of time.
- Side effects include things like drowsiness, nausea, headaches and even anxiety.
- There are other side effects of taking pharmaceutical sleeping meds alongside other medications, so you should always consult with a doctor beforehand.
- CBN is a good natural alternative that has far fewer side effects and is just as effective.