Side effects of sleeping aids

By Ann Griswold • Published: June 26th, 2007
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

According to a recent poll, more than seventy-five percent of American adults have trouble sleeping on a regular basis. But counting sheep is becoming a thing of the past… an increasing number of people are turning to prescription sleep aids to ensure a good night’s rest.

Popular drugs like Ambien, Lunesta and Sonata are often a sure thing in the middle of the night, when sleep seems far away. But the Food and Drug Administration warns that these and similar prescription sleep aids can, in rare cases, make your nights as busy as your days.

Makers of sleep aids are now required to provide a detailed warning describing the risks of somnambulism… the scientific term for sleep-walking. People under the influence of these medications have experienced bizarre calls-to-action in the middle of the night, prompting them to go for a drive, prepare and eat food, make a few cell phone calls or even have sex… all while fast asleep. Somnambulism occurs more often when sleep aids are taken with alcohol or other medications.

How far will you go to get a good night’s rest? Before you resort to prescription sleep aids, try these simple tricks from the National Sleep Foundation: Never drink caffeine in the late afternoon or evening. Avoid food, nicotine and alcohol for at least two hours before going to bed. Exercise regularly, but finish a few hours before bedtime. And create a restful sleep environment by neutralizing light, noise and temperature in your bedroom.