Are “Doctor Approved” Sleep Drugs Safe for Long Term Use?


Trying to fall asleep while pregnant can be a nightmare, and sleep drugs can appear to be a “quick fix”. Expecting mothers struggling with this issue often wonder if prescription sleeping pills can help them.

Not only can this lead to complications with pregnancy, but sleeping pills may not be as effective as most people think, especially in the long term.

We are going to explore whether prescription and over the counter drugs are safe or not. But first, let’s cover some of the common drugs doctors prescribe for insomnia.

Common Sleep Drugs Doctors Prescribe

Before writing a prescription, doctors try to examine the root cause of your sleep issues and the type of sleep issue you experience. 

For example, the drugs used to treat sleep issues related to anxiety would be different than those used to treat restless leg syndrome. 

Here are some of the common drugs people with insomnia are prescribed:

Antidepressants (Trazodone, Mirtazapine, Amitriptyline)

Certain antidepressants are sometimes prescribed to treat sleeplessness caused by anxiety or depression, as these drugs have a sedating effect. 

Some of the most common are trazodone, mirtazapine, and amitriptyline.

Benzodiazepines (Emazepam, Triazolam)

Benzodiazepines are older and are prescribed to treat long term sleep issues such as night terrors or sleepwalking. However, they can lead to issues such as sleepiness during the day. 

On top of this, they can cause dependence, leading to long term use and risk of abuse. Some common Benzodiazepines are emazepam and triazolam.

Eszopiclone (Lunesta)

Lunesta, a well-known name brand sleep drug, helps you fall asleep quickly, but at a cost. If you don’t get a full 7-8 hours of sleep, you will be incredibly groggy throughout the day. In fact, some patients have reported severe impairment the following day.

Ramelteon (Rozerem)

Ramelteon works differently than the other sleep drugs mentioned above. It targets the sleep-wake cycle, whereas others depress the CNS (Central nervous system). This sleep drug is used for people who have trouble falling asleep initially.

Suvorexant (Belsomra)

Belsomra works by blocking an essential hormone in the body that causes wakefulness and insomnia. Like others listed here, this drug will cause you to feel very sleepy the next day.

Zaleplon (Sonata)

Sonata, a newer sleep drug, stays in your body much shorter than others. This means its great for occasional use on those nights you are tossing and turning and decide you need some help. Even if you take it very late, such as 2-3am, you won’t feel as groggy the next day as you would with others.

Zolpidem (Ambien, Edluar, Intermezzo)

While these types of drugs help you fall asleep, they don’t necessarily keep you from waking up throughout the night. Extended-release versions of Ambien may combat this issue, but since they work so slowly, they can cause serious problems the next day. The FDA has encouraged those taking Ambien CR to avoid driving or operating machinery the day after.

Over-the-counter sleep aids (Unisom)

Over the counter sleep aids are typically antihistamines. They are less effective than prescription drugs, and there is no evidence suggesting they combat insomnia effectively. 

Unisom, a popular OTC sleep drug, has been recognized as safe by the FDA, but it is intended to treat temporary sleeplessness. As is the case with the majority of these drugs, it doesn’t address the actual issue and is not meant to be long term solution to improve sleep.

Do Sleep Drugs Actually Work for Insomnia?

To understand how effective sleep drugs actually are, we need to know a little bit more about sleep itself, and the different levels of it. 

There are two basic kinds of sleep: Rapid Eye Movement (REM) and Non-REM. To keep things simple, just know that REM sleep is a deeper, more restful form of sleep than non-REM. 

Now, let’s examine the level of sleep you experience when using sleep drugs.

Natural sleep vs drug-induced sleep

Researchers compared natural sleep to sleep induced with sleeping pills such as Ambien, and the results were eye-opening.

Sleeping pills may help you fall asleep, but they do not help with the quality of your sleep. In fact, what one study found was that drug-induced sleep contributed to less slow brain waves associated with deep sleep.

This means that while these pills might knock you out, you aren’t getting the deep, restful sleep you need. You still wake up the next day feeling groggy, despite getting a full 7-8 hours.

Risks and side effects of sleep drugs

The main problem with sleeping pills is that it is very easy to become dependant on them. You may build up a tolerance, and need to increase your dose to fall asleep. 

This can lead to more issues, such as withdrawal, rebound insomnia, and masking the true cause of your insomnia. Here are some of the other common side effects:

  • Moderate to severe drowsiness the next day
  • Dizziness and forgetfulness
  • Clumsiness, feeling off-balance
  • Constipation and urinary retention
  • Blurred vision
  • Dry mouth and throat
  • Nausea

A Natural Way to Treat Insomnia

If you are looking to experience the best sleep of your life and have decided that sleep drugs may not be worth it, try our Organic Sleepy Body Lotion

This body lotion is designed to help pregnant women fall asleep and stay asleep. It contains magnesium and lavender oil, both proven to help naturally improve sleep!

How it Works

The lavender helps to reduce anxiety and calm your mind before bed. It also eases your body to sleep by calming the nervous system and lowering your blood pressure and heart rate. This increases the amount of slow/deep brain waves experienced for more restorative sleep.

The magnesium helps you sleep by preventing painful leg cramps, restless legs (a common sleep issue expecting moms suffer from), and reducing muscle aches and pains. 

Magnesium also helps to regulate GABA (a neurotransmitter in your brain that helps to calm and quiet down nerve activity to help you get deeper sleep).


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