Sleeping Pills
Sleeping Pills | AToN Center

Sleeping Pills

When someone has a sleep condition it will cause them to have trouble sleeping resulting in lots of waking in the middle of the night. Having a sleep problem can be detrimental to your health and affect your body in negative ways.

For instance, for many people a lack of sleep can make it a challenge to get through the day, along with other things like memory problems. Prescription sleeping pills are used to treat sleep problems and health conditions like insomnia in people. People take sleeping pills to improve their sleep and get a better night’s rest.

Although sleeping pills can be used to treat insomnia, sleeping pills or a sedative hypnotic may also become addictive. Many people become dependent on prescription sleeping pills because they are habit forming and you cannot fall sleep without them.

What are Prescription Sleeping Pills?

Prescription sleeping pills or a “sedative hypnotic” work by helping adults become drowsier and sleepier making it easier for someone to get a good night’s sleep. The use of sleeping pills, including natural sleep medication like melatonin, can cause side effects. You may feel confused or sleepy during the day.

Many people suffer from a sleep disturbance or insomnia that makes it difficult to fall asleep at night. Although, this can be common there may be more reasons to why this is happening, or it may be a symptom of an underlying medical or psychological problem.

It is important to take prescription sleeping pills shortly before you fall asleep. Sleeping pills may result in the ability to have a better sleep and reduce instances of insomnia in people who take the drug.

Common Names for Sleeping Pills

More names they go by:

  • Hypnotics
  • Tranquilizers
  • Sedatives
  • Sleep medicine
  • Sleep aids

Sleeping pills are part of the drug category known as sedative hypnotics. Sedative hypnotics also include benzodiazepines and barbiturates like Xanax. Sleeping pills are unlike other drugs in this category because they are non-benzodiazepine hypnotics. They can be referred to as “z-drugs” because they improve a person’s night’s sleep.

It is important to talk to your doctor before taking any type of sleep aid, even melatonin, to be sure that these products and sleep aids are safe to use. There are lots of different types of medications that doctors prescribe to treat insomnia.

Types of Sleeping Pills

Insomnia treatments include medications such as:


Hypnotics are drugs that are used to help people go to sleep. There are many types of hypnotic drugs, and doctors recommend and prescribe them to people based on the type of sleep health problem you have.


Some antidepressants like Trazodone work well in helping someone fall asleep along with anxiety. Antidepressants like Trazodone products are most often prescribed at doses between 25mg to 100mg as a sleep aid. However, studies show lower dosages of Trazodone are effective and may cause less daytime sleepiness and fewer side effects than others because the drug is short acting.


Barbiturates are a kind of depressant or sedative drug. They are an old class of sleep medicine used to relax the body and help people sleep. When people take a sleeping pill like barbiturates it may carry a serious side effect or risk for physical and psychological addiction. The risk of a fatal overdose is higher with barbiturates than other drugs as the difference between a safe dose and a deadly one is small.


Xanax (alprazolam) may be used as a sleeping pill drug for treating insomnia. Xanax is used off-label to treat insomnia; it is approved to treat panic attacks and anxiety disorders.


Melatonin pills are over the counter products that are used to treat sleep problems but do not require a prescription from your doctor.

How Does a Sleeping Pill Make an Adult Feel?

Your doctor or healthcare provider will typically only prescribe prescription sleeping pills for short term insomnia treatments. Sleeping pills causes a depression of the central nervous system in the brain.

A doctor will prescribe them for a solution of cases of severe insomnia or sleep disturbances and do not need to be taken on a strict dosage basis. Sleeping pill use acts quickly and can often be used on an as-needed basis.

The way that sleeping pills, including over the counter, will make you feel will depend on the type of medications that you are using. More factors that determine the side effects of sleeping pills include your sleep wake cycle, other medications you are taking and overall health information of the person taking the drug.

How Do They Make Me Feel?

Other effects of sleeping pills or medications for sleep include:

  • Dreamless sleep
  • Reduced anxiety
  • Lack of coordination
  • Hallucinations
  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness

Side Effects of Sleeping Pills

The effects of sleeping pills and taking sleeping pills may make a person feel some negative side effects. Around 80% of people experience a “hangover” effect the day after taking sleep medicine.

Certain side effects of taking sleeping pills such as an effect on brain function can manifest as quickly as within a single dose or the first time the sleep drugs are taken.

Taking sleep pills or medications when you have trouble sleeping whether they are prescription sleeping pills (and supplements) or over the counter, like melatonin can cause these side effects among others:

  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Muscle weakness
  • Dry mouth
  • Digestive problems, including gas, heartburn, and nausea
  • Headaches

If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the above side effects, please, or an addiction to any type of sleeping pills, contact AToN Center. We would be happy to discuss our treatment programs available.

Sleeping Pill Withdrawal

Often, people who abuse a sleeping pill suffer from what is called “rebound insomnia” This refers to an insomnia that is compounded and that is even worse than it was before they started taking the drug.

These are common side effects and should not be used as a reason to continue taking sleeping pills for insomnia. Fortunately, detox that is medically assisted can help reduce the chance for this and other withdrawal symptoms.

People do not realize that they have become dependent, or possibly addicted to the drug, until they try to quit taking their sleeping medication. When stopping they may experience withdrawal symptoms, a sign of both dependence and addiction.

Other signs that the use of sleeping pills has gotten out of control include:

  • Failed attempts to quit
  • Experiencing frequent memory loss from the pills
  • Cravings or urges for sleeping medications
  • Continuing to take pills despite negative consequences
  • Going to multiple doctors for prescription refills

Addiction to Sleeping Pills

Like other drugs, it is possible to become addicted to medications like sleeping pills. When drugs or medications are used in ways other than how your doctor or healthcare provider prescribes them it can become habit forming and create a dependence to it.

Signs of Addiction to Sleeping Pills

One of the major side effects of taking sleeping pills is the risk for becoming dependent or addicted to them. Dealing with insomnia is understandably difficult, but ensuring you know the risks and dangers of taking a sleeping pill is important.

When you become dependent upon your sleeping pill and cannot go to sleep without it, you could be becoming addicted to it. Cravings and urges are also an indication of addiction. Your doctor may know other ways to treat conditions like insomnia such something like cognitive behavioral therapy or other sleep products. Side effects such as addiction are just not worth the risk to overcome insomnia.

Dangers of Sleeping Pills

There can be some serious negative side effects of sleeping pills such as daytime memory or performance problems. When you take a sleeping pill it can cause you to engage in conditions like sleep eating, making phone calls that you did not mean to or sleep driving.

Prescription sleeping pills from a doctor (and even some over the counter sleeping pills) as well as certain antidepressant medications may not be safe if you are breastfeeding or pregnant, or an older adult. It is always important to speak with a doctor before taking any type of sleep aid such as a sleeping pill.

Common Drug Interactions

People may not always look at the advertising or labels that are associated with products like sleep aids. It is important to look at this content to determine what type of drug interactions there may be if you take these medications together.

What to Avoid

For example, taking a sleeping pill in combination with alcohol may be extremely dangerous. The sedative effects of the sleeping pill is intensified by alcohol, increasing the chances of an overdose that could be deadly. For those who have a severe addiction (and a dependence) may use alcohol to increase the potency of their sleeping pills.

How to Take Them Safely

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine advises the following for people taking a sleeping pill:

  • Never take this medication without approval from a doctor
  • Do not take any drugs or alcohol before consuming the medication
  • Contact someone right away if complications occur
  • Take your first dose when you do not have anything planned
  • Do not operate a vehicle or heavy machinery after taking a sleeping pill.

Treating Sleeping Pill Addiction

Overcoming an addiction to a prescription sleeping pill can be hard but with proper treatment and support it is possible. Often, the idea to treat insomnia with products like sleeping pills ends up in negative consequences like addiction or substance abuse.

The best way to overcome an addiction is to reach out to a treatment site where they can help address the issue behind your substance abuse. A treatment site has one mission and that is to help the clients get better.

If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction to sleeping pills, reach out to AToN Center for information on our treatment programs. Our treatment staff can give you more information on our programs and services to treat addiction.

How Can I Sleep Without Medication?

There are many ways to treat insomnia and sleep disturbances without the use of prescription medications.

You may want to:

  • Avoid alcohol and large meals before bed.
  • Reduce caffeine, including sodas, chocolate, and coffee, before bedtime.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Relax with a good book, news articles, newsletters, other content, meditation, or soothing music
  • Turn off all electronic devices at least a half an hour before bedtime.
  • Stay active throughout the day. If possible, try to get outside.
  • Keep a sleep schedule (same wakeup and bedtime) even on weekends.
  • Make your bedroom into a cool, quiet, dark, sanctuary.

Addiction Treatment at AToN Center

AToN Center is a drug and alcohol treatment center located in San Diego, California. Our treatment program treats all types of addiction, and our mission is to help individuals become clean and sober from drugs and alcohol.

AToN Center has many on site amenities including pools, gyms, yoga, meditation and much more. We also have a first-class chef on site at our facility.

Our addiction rehab therapists are doctoral level AND licensed, or advanced certified CD counselors. We do not use interns, psychological assistants, or unlicensed “professionals.” We attend off site exposure sessions and content meetings to allow clients the opportunity to work through issues including motivation, how to cope with triggers, cravings, and discomfort in a naturalistic setting.

Reach Out

For more information on our services or to learn about our mission, please contact us. We would be happy to provide you or your family with more details on our specific programs.

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