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OTC vs. Prescription Drugs continued...

One concern with benzodiazepines, says Marks, is that they may interfere with slow-wave sleep, the kind of deep sleep you need to feel physically restored.

Another group of hypnotics is known as melatonin agonists. They are not a knockout drug, the kind that makes you feel drowsy, says Marks. These compounds work with your circadian rhythm, or body clock, as a sleep maintenance medication taken daily.

Taking prescription sleep medication is only recommended under the close supervision of your doctor. You should discuss all the risks and potential side effects and ask your doctor to review the dosage instructions with you. And remember, you should never take medication prescribed for someone else, even once.

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, impairment the next day, sleep walking, and even sleep driving. The FDA has lowered the recommended dosages in the cases of some drugs. 

The agency 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. 

 

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.

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