Understanding the Side Effects of Sleeping Pills
Are There More Complex Sleeping Pill Side Effects?
Some sleeping pills have potentially harmful side effects, including parasomnias. Parasomnias are behaviors and actions over which you have no control, like sleepwalking. During a parasomnia, you are asleep and unaware of what is happening.
Parasomnias with sleeping pills are complex sleep behaviors and may include sleep eating, making phone calls, or having sex while in a sleep state. Sleep driving, which is driving while not fully awake, is another serious sleeping pill side effect. Though rare, parasomnias are difficult to detect once the medication takes effect.
Product labels for sedative-hypnotic medicines include language about the potential risks of taking a sleeping pill. Because complex sleep behaviors are more likely to occur if you increase the dosage of a sleeping pill, take only what your doctor prescribes -- no more.
Can I Be Allergic to Sleeping Pills?
Yes. Some people may have an allergic reaction when taking a sleeping pill and should avoid them. It's important to talk to your doctor at the first sign of these serious side effects, including:
- Blurred vision or any other problems with your sight
- Chest pain
- Difficulty breathing or swallowing
- Feeling that the throat is closing
- Pounding heartbeat
- Shortness of breath
- Swelling of the eyes, face, lips, tongue, or throat
In addition, a serious -- even deadly -- side effect of any medicine someone is allergic to is anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is an acute allergic reaction. Another possible effect is angioedema, which is severe facial swelling. Again, discuss these possibilities with your doctor if you are at risk of allergic reactions.
When Do I Take a Sleeping Pill?
It's usually recommended that you take the sleeping pill right before your desired bedtime. Read your doctor's instructions on the sleeping pill prescription label. The instructions have specific information regarding your medication. In addition, always allow ample time to sleep before you take a sleeping pill.
Is It Dangerous to Combine Sleeping Pills and Alcohol?
Yes. Mixing alcohol and sleeping pills can be extremely hazardous. The combination increases the sedative effect of sleeping pills, and that can be fatal. In fact, sleeping pill labels warn against using alcohol while taking the drug.
Also, you should not eat grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice while taking some sleeping pills. Grapefruit increases the amount of the drug absorbed into your bloodstream and how long it stays in the body. That can actually cause over sedation.
Can I Become Dependent on Sleeping Pills?
For short-term insomnia, your doctor may prescribe sleeping pills for several weeks. Yet after regular use for a longer period, your sleeping pill may stop working as you build a tolerance to the medication. You may also become psychologically dependent on the medicine. Then the idea of going to sleep without it will make you anxious.
Without the sleeping pill, you might find it difficult to sleep. If that happens it could be a sign of a physical or emotional dependence or both. Some studies show that long-term use of sleeping pills actually interferes with sleep. The best way to avoid developing a physical or emotional dependence on sleeping pills is to follow your doctor's instructions and stop taking the drug when recommended.