Blog Why Sleeping Pills Aren’t A Long-Term Solution To Insomnia?

Why Sleeping Pills Aren’t A Long-Term Solution To Insomnia?

Having to deal with insomnia is a real pain. When you struggle to get a good night’s rest, the rest of your next day is practically ruined.

As a result, people tend to rely on sleeping pills to help them get a good night’s rest. However, sleeping pills are not a long-term solution to insomnia because they can cause dependence on the medication, which makes it harder for the patient to sleep without the drug.

Additionally, people often become tolerant of sleeping pills after taking them for an extended period of time, making it necessary for patients with insomnia to increase their dosage over time to achieve the same effect.

Tolerance, and even an addiction to sleeping pills, can develop insidiously. Patients may not realize they are becoming reliant on sleeping pills unless they try to stop taking them and experience withdrawal symptoms such as intense insomnia or anxiety.

Here’s why you shouldn’t rely on sleeping pills as a long-term solution to insomnia:


What is Insomnia?

Insomnia is a disorder that causes people to have trouble sleeping without an adequate amount of time to rest or enough quality sleep when they do go to bed.

Insomnia is very common and affects hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people. As such, insomnia can have many causes including stress, anxiety, physical illness, an irregular sleep schedule, or even alcohol withdrawal.

Insomnia comes in various forms and severities, including transient insomnia, acute insomnia, short-term insomnia, chronic insomnia, delayed sleep phase syndrome (DSPS), advanced sleep phase syndrome (ASPS), and non-24-hour sleep-wake disorder.

  • Transient insomnia: The inability to sleep that lasts one night.
  • Acute insomnia: When you can’t sleep for a few days or weeks.
  • Short-term insomnia: Insomnia that will usually last only for several days
  • Chronic insomnia: Insomnia that will last for at least three weeks.
  • Delayed sleep phase syndrome: Occurs when an individual has trouble falling asleep.
  • Advanced sleep phase disorder: Occurs when an individual wakes up very early in the morning.
  • Non-24-hour sleep-wake disorder: A circadian rhythm disorder where the patient’s body clock runs on a longer than 24-hour cycle, so their sleep occurs later or earlier each day.

What are Sleeping Pills?

Sleeping pills induce sleep in patients with insomnia and other sleep disorders.

There are two main types of sleeping pills: 

1. Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines are more commonly used than non-benzodiazepines, but they have potentially more severe side effects, such as confusion, memory loss, amnesia (inability to remember what has happened while under the influence of the medication), impulsivity, and violent behavior.

These are typically fast-acting and short-lasting, which means they can be effective at inducing sleep but also tend to lose their effectiveness the longer a person takes them. They also have a high potential for abuse and addiction, especially in people with a history of substance abuse or dependence on alcohol or drugs.

2. Non-benzodiazepines

Non-benzodiazepines are less addictive than benzodiazepines, but they result in less deep sleep and REM sleep. Therefore, these medications don’t work as well at alleviating insomnia. They also have a higher risk of causing daytime drowsiness, confusion, and impaired motor skills compared to benzodiazepines.

What Are The Risks Of Sleeping Pills?

Sleeping pills carry many risks, including an increased risk of cancer and other serious illnesses. Some evidence suggests that sleeping pill users have a higher risk of developing certain types of cancer, such as breast (in women), colon (in men), and lung cancer. Other evidence suggests that people who take sleeping pills long-term are more at risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.

Sleeping pills can also be physically addictive and cause withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop taking them. Some common withdrawal symptoms for benzodiazepines include anxiety, panic attacks, seizures, tremors, and general feelings of discomfort. Non-benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms are similar but tend to be less intense.

Finally, long-term use of sleeping pills can cause rebound insomnia, which is the worsening of symptoms of insomnia when you stop taking sleeping pills.

What Can I do Instead?

There are many things you can do instead of using sleep medications on a regular basis. The first is to start exercising regularly. While you sleep, physical activity causes your body temperature and heart rate to go up, which can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.

Exercise also helps reduce stress levels and anxiety. Anxiety and stress cause many people with insomnia problems to think about how difficult it will be to fall asleep at the end of the night. But if you’re relaxed and feeling better, you can avoid that anxiety or stress that makes it harder to fall asleep at night.

Along with exercise, practicing good sleep hygiene is an effective way of coping with insomnia. Sleep hygiene involves creating habits that promote healthy sleeping patterns, such as going to bed and getting up at the same time every day, avoiding naps during the day, and creating a calm sleeping environment.

In some cases, behavioral therapies can be effective at treating insomnia. These treatments include techniques such as cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia, which helps you change your thoughts about sleep to allow you to fall asleep faster and maintain a healthy sleep cycle. Learning how to cope with anxiety and stress can also help improve your sleep.

Final Words

You may also want to consider seeing a doctor about how well your diet is supporting healthy sleep habits. What you eat, drink or do before bed can have a big impact on how well you get to sleep at night. For example, caffeine taken in the afternoon or late in the day can make it difficult to fall asleep at night. On the other hand, eating a large meal before bed can also cause problems by making you feel uncomfortable and bloated as you try to go to sleep.

Sleeping pills might be able to help with your insomnia in the short term, but by no means are they a long-term solution.

The risks sleeping pills carry tend to outweigh the benefits they have. It’s better to seek alternative methods to address your insomnia than with sleeping pills.

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