Michael Breus, PhD: Are sleeping pills a good idea? It depends upon the reason that you are using them. Uh, and it depends on how they've been prescribed for you.So sleeping pills, there are several different groups of sleeping pills.There are old school benzodiazepine hypnotic sleeping pills. These are pills that would just knock you out, okay.These are not, these are pills that would affect your sleep architecture, so they won't allow you to get into deep sleep, which we've talked about before.What they do is they put you into light sleep and when you wake up, you slept, but you don't feel particularly great.Also, the old school benzodiazepine hypnotics have very long half lives. And so what ends up happening is you're groggy the next day.So I'm not a big fan of those unless you have a severe case of chronic insomnia where some of those may be the only things that help you fall asleep.The newer line medications are the non-benzodiazepine hypnotics. These are a little bit different because they don't affect your sleep architecture at all.You'll get just as much deep sleep taking one of those as you normally wouldbut what's interesting about those is you want to get one with shorter half lives, you want to only use them as prescribed.What we're finding is that a lot of people, if one works, then after a week or two it doesn't work, and then maybe 2 works, and then maybe 3 works.That's not a great idea. You should only use medication as prescribed by your physician, and if one isn't working, you need to let your doctor know.What's going to be really interesting are the new line drugs that are going to be coming out in a few years, that will actually help to promote particular stages of sleep.And so they are working on those now. They're pretty fascinating. There's certain medications that will actually enhance your stage three and four sleep.The problem is we don't know what that means and what's that's going to do. It is a good thing to have more stage three and four sleep when you're 65 years old or not?We don't really know, so it will be very interesting to see what happens as these new line drugs come out.