Insomnia Medications

Approximately 25% of Americans take insomnia medications every year. Sleeping pills or sleep aids of one sort or another have been in use for more than 100 years. Yet today, there is a much wider range of sleep medications from which to choose.

insomnia medications

While people have been using sleep aids since the early 1900s, prescription and over-the-counter medications should be a last resort and only considered on the recommendation of a qualified healthcare professional. Natural sleep supplements or supplements that contain Melatonin or other ingredients should also be discussed with your doctor, if you are considering trying them to help with sleep.

Some prescription sleep medications can produce a range of bad side effects and/or cause drug dependency issues. Older insomnia drugs, such as barbiturates (e.g. Seconal, Amytal or Nembutal) are used much less often today because of the risks associated with them. 

Today's newer sleep medications are generally safer and have fewer side effects.


Benzodiazepine Hypnotics (BRAs)
These insomnia medications are effective, but they can also be too heavily sedating and addictive in some people. Examples of BRAs include Ativan, Xanax, and Halcion.

This is a newer class of drugs designed to treat insomnia. They are less sedating than BRAs and are less likely to cause dependency. Examples include Ambien, Sonata, and Lunesta.

Although normally used to treat depression and anxiety, these medications can also have a sedating effect. They are especially useful in cases where the insomnia is a symptom of depression. Examples include Aventyl, Desyrel, Paxil, and Valium. For more information on these prescription sleep medications, including active ingredients, potential side effects, and dosage, click here: Sleep Medicine.

Over-the-Counter Sleep Aids
The active ingredient in most over-the-counter sleeping medications is an antihistamine. These drugs can cause drowsiness (think what happens when you take Benadryl or Dramamine), but they typically have no side effects. Examples include Nytol, Sominex, Unisom, and Sleep-Eze

Natural Sleep Supplements
Typically available from health food stores, natural sleep supplements can be an effective option to consider versus over-the-counter or prescription medication. Yet, it is important to note that just because a product is labeled as "natural" or "herbal" doesn't mean it is without risks or is 100% safe for everyone.

Supplements that help with sleep may include one or more of the following ingredients: Melatonin, Valerian Root, Chamomile, Passionflower, Hops, Lavendar, St.Johns Wort, and/or 5-hydroxytryptophan. Click on this link for more on natural sleep supplements. 

As indicated above, there are a variety of insomnia medications and options on the market. When recommended by a doctor and taken correctly, they can be beneficial in the treatment of insomnia. If you are consistently having trouble sleeping, visit to your doctor. An accurate and professional diagnosis is the first step towards reclaiming your restful nights.


Of course, there are many effective sleep remedies that don't involve drugs, which you should try before turning to sleeping pills. Consider the following and click on the links for more information.

  • Improve your sleep habits (sleep hygiene)
  • Try aromatherapy 
  • Learn relaxation techniques
  • Change your bedtime routine
  • Create a relaxing sleep environment
  • Cut out caffeine and heavy meals before bedtime
  • Take a closer look at your diet and try sleep inducing foods before bedtime.

So, take heart. With help from your doctor, and the correct treatment plan, you'll be on the road to more restful sleep and ... and your waking hours will be much more enjoyable.

Related Information - Insomnia Medications

More on Insomnia Medicine
Insomnia Tips
Natural Cures for Insomnia
Aromatherapy Benefits
Techniques For Relaxation
Sleep Disorders
Over-the-Counter Sleep Aids

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