The Dangers of Taking Sleeping Pills

The Dangers of Taking Sleeping Pills

Many people suffer from sleeping disorders or insomnia. They may believe that a doctor can prescribe to them a magical wonder pill that will relieve their nights of being unable to fall asleep or bouts of restless sleep. Improved sleep can surely be a result of taking a sleeping pill, however, there are numerous side effects that may not be mentioned before being prescribed. Some are mere inconveniences, but others can lead to dangerous or even fatal consequences.

Increased Tolerance

Long-term use of prescription sleeping aids can lead to a number of problems. Although most doses start out as small, over time you may build up a tolerance to that dosage that can lead your doctor to increasing it. It may seem helpful at the time, but increased tolerance can lead to depressed breathing while sleeping, a very dangerous and perhaps even fatal consequence. It is important to only use sleeping aids when absolutely necessary, using them for short-term fixes rather than long-term solutions. 

Cancer or Death 

A study was published in 2012 in the BMJ Open Journal that found a connection between the prolonged use of sleeping pills and several types of cancer or even death in some cases. The presence of such high-powered drugs in the body can cause issues both immediately and over time, and in this case, an increased buildup can lead to deadly results. If suffering from long-term sleeping problems, it may be more beneficial to look into certain types of therapy rather than using pills.

Driving While Drowsy 

If you take a sleeping aid but then don’t stay in bed for at least eight hours afterward, the effects of the medication may continue on even after you have awakened. You can feel sluggish and lethargic, which isn’t a great combination if you have to drive to work. An increased chance of causing an accident happens the minute you turn the key of your vehicle if still under the influence of sleeping meds. It is important to always set aside enough hours of sleep when using sleeping medications.

Unusual Side Effects 

Amnesia, problems with memory and focus, shaking of the body, and weird or unusual dreams are only some of the side effects you can experience when taking sleeping pills. Most prescribed sleeping pills are either benzodiazepines, barbiturates, or hypnotics. These are all highly addictive and can cause multiple issues with long-term use, including severe or unusual side effects. Because all body chemistries are different, every person may have a different reaction to the drug.

Falling Down 

Sleeping pills dull your senses, helping you to fall into a usually peaceful resting phase. But if you are up before you sleeping aid wears off, or if you do not go to bed immediately after taking it, you may experience issues with your balance. Doctors have noted an increased likelihood of tripping or falling in their patients who are taking sleeping medications. It is important to only take a sleeping pill when you plan on going to sleep directly afterward, and receiving a full eight hours of sleep as well.

Difficulty Weaning Off 

If you decide to quit taking sleeping pills, your sleeping problems may come back much worse than before. This is known as “rebound insomnia” and can be caused by depriving the body of the medication is has become dependent on for sleeping. Always talk to your doctor when planning to stop sleep medication, as taking dosages in lower increments until finally stopping is a much safer way to go about it.


Parasomnias include a wide range of activities you may engage in while still asleep. Although sleepwalking or sleep talking may be common occurrences to those not even taking sleep medication, the chances of increased parasomniac activity greatly increase by taking sleeping pills. Some users have talked on the phone while sleeping, made and ate a meal while asleep, and even drove a car while still sleeping. These can bring forth a number of dangerous consequences that could cause serious injury.

Sleeping pills provide restful nights for a number of the population who may not experience such relaxation otherwise. To increase the chances of avoiding these harmful and potentially fatal side effects, it is always important to consult with your doctor if you begin to experience any feelings that aren’t normal. There are also a number of different therapies and alternative medicine practices that may help in your quest for peaceful sleep if you do not feel comfortable taking medication.

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