What are Some of the Side Effects of Sleeping Pills?

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  • Written By: Sherry Holetzky
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 25 February 2019
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If you have ever seen a list of unusual warning labels, you may have found sleeping pills on the list with a warning that they can make you drowsy. Well, that is of course the general idea. However, the warning is there to inform people of potential side effects of sleeping pills. It is also meant to keep people from attempting to drive, operate machinery, or perform other tasks that could prove dangerous if one is drowsy from taking sleeping pills.

Sleeping pills should only be taken when a person is ready to go to bed and can devote several consecutive hours to sleep. The number of hours depends upon the type of sleep medication and the potential side effects of the pills are usually explained on the package or insert, or explained by the medical professional who wrote the prescription or the pharmacist who fills it. It is important to follow all directions, including dosage instructions precisely when to help avoid serious side effects.

Some of the potential side effects of sleeping pills include dry mouth, dizziness, short-term memory loss, possible negative interactions with other drugs, constipation, and a type of sleep “hangover” that can leave people feeling disoriented the next day or cause loss of coordination. These side effects can occur with over-the-counter as well as prescription sleep medications.


Sleeping pills can also lead to drug dependency. These types of medications are only intended to be used as a short-term way to get more rest and are not meant for long-term use. They don’t cure insomnia, because it is most often the result of underlying issues, such as stress. A sleeping pill won’t get rid of stress or pressure that you are experiencing. Still, many people like the relaxed feeling they get from taking sleeping pills, similar to the feelings obtained from barbiturates, a class of drugs no longer used in sleep medications. The latter are no longer used due to their side effects, which include abuse and overdose.

Other serious potential side effects of sleeping pills include overdose. Because our bodies can build up a tolerance to these drugs, sometimes quickly, some may be tempted to take more than the recommended dosage in order to get some sleep. This can be very dangerous and even fatal. Overdose can be especially dangerous in those with decreased lung capacity due to disease or illness, such as sleep apnea or pneumonia.

If you suffer from insomnia, changing your environment or your routine can often help. If you feel you must take sleeping pills, please research the brand you intend to use, weigh the risks of side effects, take only as directed, and remember, sleep medications are only intended for short-term use.


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Discuss this Article

Post 7

I think my husband is drugging me. I have had a numb mouth and tingling after a glass of wine, and it happens often.

Post 6

Can sleeping pills make you depressed? I had a bad case of depression a few months ago. I was taking sleeping pills also, and then I stopped taking sleeping pills because I just randomly stopped, and I felt better.

I just took sleeping pills three days ago and the feelings are coming back! I'm trying to stop taking it but if I don't, I stay up until 7 a.m. and wake up at 5 p.m.! I miss the whole day!

So I have no idea what to do. I also feel really sick and I really do not know what to do!

Post 5

I have a relative who used to take sleeping pills at bed time for 10 years. She died recently following a stroke. She was healthy. I suspect that it could be because the long-term use of sleeping pills.

Post 4

Can anybody tell me what the best over the counter sleeping aid is? I have been having the worst time getting to sleep recently, and have just not had any luck with anything else I've tried.

I don't really trust herbal sleep aids (no offense to those who do, it's just not for me), and I don't want to go through the whole rigamarole of getting a prescription, so what are my options as far as OTC goes?

I'd ideally like one that I could take a few times a week without a lot of side effects, and one that isn't hard to start or stop.

Do you all have any advice or experience that you could share with me for this?


Post 3

@Earlyforest -- Sorry to hear about your sleep issues. I totally understand your concerns about the side effects of taking sleeping pills too, they can be crazy!

You do have a few alternatives though. First, you could try to avoid taking one altogether, and using alternative means of helping yourself, sleep, like aromatherapy or meditation. There are several specially mixed aromatherapy blends that are good for sleeping, but if you want to make your own, consider starting off with lavender -- that's always very soothing, and can put your mind in the state to meditate, if that's what you'd like to do.

If you really feel like you need to try a sleep aid, then why not try herbal sleeping

pills? There are several very reputable brands that make good natural sleeping supplements, and you can also try herbal sleep aids that come in the form of tea.

Many people find that having a cup of chamomile tea can help them to relax and sleep, and valerian and St. John's Wort are also good herbal sleep aids.

Whatever you decide, I would advise you to go over it with your doctor first though. Even herbal supplements can interact with your body in some pretty extreme ways, so better safe than sorry.

Hope that helps -- namaste!

Post 2

So then how do you choose the best sleep aid if you want to avoid side effects like that? I have been thinking some time about taking SleepMD or some over the counter sleep aid, but I'm just so worried about all the side effects.

I mean, you read all these horror stories in the sleep aid reviews and it just sounds horrible, almost like people are taking some crazy illicit drug or something.

I need a sleep aid that will leave me rested, not zombified!

Is there any particular type of sleep aid that I should look for, or certain ingredients that I should avoid? I really don't need anything super serious, I just have trouble getting to sleep occasionally, so I would like to think that I could get that from an OTC sleep aid, but I just don't know.

So what should I do? Do you guys have any recommendations?

Post 1

Four years back i was very much mentally disturbed and got used to sleeping pills for two years continuously. but now am completely out of it and never think of taking even once, but i wanted to know what can it do to me now.

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