But like any other drug, sleeping pills can cause side effects. These include nausea, headaches and dizziness. A recent incident involving a school-bus driver in Winston-Salem, N.C., is a reminder that daytime sleepiness is another possible side effect.
Some people also may sleepwalk, sleep eat or have other complex sleep behaviors as a side effect. In 2006 the FDA told drug makers to add these risks to their product labeling for sleeping pills.
So how can you reduce your risk of these and other side effects?
First, carefully follow your doctor’s prescribing instructions. Never take more than the dosage that your doctor prescribes. Always talk to your doctor before taking another medication along with a sleeping pill.
Also, allow time for a full night of sleep after taking a sleeping pill to reduce morning or daytime drowsiness. It is also important to avoid drinking any alcohol before or after taking a sleep medication.
Tell your doctor right away if you have any side effects from taking a sleeping pill. Your doctor may adjust your dose. Or you may be able to try a different medication.
There are a variety of effective sleeping pills available. So your doctor should be able to find one that is right for you.
If you prefer a drug-free alternative, ask you doctor about CBT for insomnia. It’s an effective treatment option that can have long-lasting effects.