Almost everyone experiences a bit of insomnia every now and then, maybe when their stress levels are high or there are anxious about an upcoming event but when the insomnia lasts for a prolonged period, something needs to be done about it. There are several medications that can be taken, either prescribed or over the counter that can help with insomnia. The problem is that many of these medications have addictive properties. It is always best to check with your physician before attempting to treat prolonged insomnia on your own. Plus, you will want your doctor to rule out any condition that might health related first before making assumptions with your own health.
In earlier times many doctors used to prescribe benzodiazepines to their patients to assist with insomnia but over the years it was discovered that these were addictive and had negative residual effects. Although they are still used today, it is very rare in comparison to earlier times. Benzodiazepine receptor agonists came along after that, around the 1990’s. These offered hope to many but were not as promising as had hoped as they too still contained addictive properties.
Today there are many new drugs available and insomnia medication truly has come a long way. Non- benzodiazepines are available and are FDA approved such as Lunesta, Ambien, and Sonata. These have been found to be completely safe and effective in the treatment of insomnia. These are actually very safe to use for up to six months with no side effects or long term effects. However, while the doctor may prescribe this medication for non chronic insomnia, if the insomnia is still a factor after six months, it then becomes chronic and will likely have to be dealt with in a different manner.
There are also many over-the-counter drugs available for insomnia which can be purchased without a prescription. Most of these contain antihistamines to promote sleep. These are not recommended at all, especially for any length of time because they do have significant side effects that include feeling lethargic the next day, impaired psychomotor skills, and even problems driving. Because these drugs contain antihistamines, they also have a tendency to have adverse effects such as dry mouth, dry eyes, and urinary retention. This is why it is so important to check with your doctor before taking any medications that you can purchase without a prescription.
The drugs that are use to treat insomnia are broken down into different categories such as sedative hypnotic medications, benzodiazepine hypnotics, non benzodiazepine hypnotics, over the counter medications, sedating antidepressants, natural or herbal remedies, and a combination approach. The medicinal approach all depends on how complicated the insomnia is.
If it is complex then it may require the combination approach which will include avoiding all caffeine and alcohol entirely, improved eating habits, getting plenty of exercise, and keeping a routine bedtime regimen. Before a solid approach can be taken, it will have to be evaluated not only your nighttime insomnia but also the daytime consequences of the insomnia. Another factor that has to be determined is if the insomnia is the primary problem or the secondary problem which could be the result of some untreated depression or anxiety condition.