Potential Side Effects of Prescription Sleep Drugs
Should you worry?
Side effects can occur, however, especially if you’re not taking the best type of medication for you, at the right dosage. Here are a few problems you may experience, and what you can do to avoid them.
Dependence or addiction
Taking sleep medications long-term can mask the real cause of insomniasuch as poor sleep habits or too much stress. Patients often tell their doctors that they're dependent on medication, but it's possible they haven't addressed underlying issues affecting their sleep, and that they don't really need the pills.
Sexual side effects
Sleepwalking, eating, and driving
Downey stresses that automatic behavior is relatively rare, however. “We’ve only had one person here do that, and we evaluate over 1,000 people a year.” Nevertheless, the Food and Drug Administration considered the risk serious enough to request that all sedative-hypnotic drug products carry a warning about the potential for sleepwalking and similar behaviors.
Dopamine agonists target receptors in the brain associated with motivation and reward; researchers suggest that anyone taking these drugs be screened for compulsive behaviors and monitored carefully for warning signs.
Cost of medications
Consider other treatments
Sleep experts agree that behavior therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) are still the most effective treatments for long-term sleep problems. In therapy sessions, you’ll learn habits and behaviors that will help your body get used to sleeping again—at the right time and for the right amount of time. And unlike a pill, you can recall and practice those routines every night, for free.
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