Know the Risks and Side Effects
There are a number of safety concerns regarding prescription sleep drugs. The FDA has issued warnings for prescription sleep drugs including Ambien, Lunesta, Rozerem, and Sonata because they may cause allergic reactions, sleep walking, and even sleep driving.
The FDA recommends taking the following precautions when using sleep drugs:
- Don't take them with alcohol.
- Don't take more than the prescribed dose.
- Don't take with other sedating medication.
The FDA requires manufacturers of certain popular sleep medications such as Ambien and Zolpimist to offer lower doses for women. Women clear the drugs from their systems more slowly than men and the agency says blood levels of the drugs could still be high enough the following morning to affect activities that require alertness, such as driving. The FDA says doctor should consider the lower dose for men too.
Getting a Good Night's Sleep
Most sleeping pills are not designed for long-term use, says Marks. The goal is to get off of them and get at the root of what's actually interfering with your sleep.
There are other strategies to improve sleep, such as using meditation or exercise to decrease stress. The National Sleep Foundation suggests that sleeping aids are most effective when used in conjunction with other kinds of treatment, such as cognitive behavioral therapy.