An authoritative voice in medicine, Dr. Muhammed Niaz MD frequently shares insight into trending health topics and useful advice with readers. Here, he talks about the wide usage of sleeping medications today and warns against their addictive nature.
Dr. Muhammed Niaz MD understands that sleeping medications can help people overcome insomnia, which may fuel complications like anxiety or stress, among others. However, he also understands that prolonged use of sleeping medication may form addictive habits, and he is hesitant to prescribe them long-term.
“Today, our sleeping aids are extremely effective at helping people fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night, but they come with harmful side effects that patients don’t always keep in mind,” says Dr. Muhammed Niaz MD. “Sleeping meds are highly addictive if used over a prolonged period, and that also brings side effects like lasting kidney or liver damage into the equation.”
Sleeping medications fall under a drug category called sedative-hypnotics, which is the same category as barbiturates and benzodiazepines. While they all can help people achieve sleep, the ingredients in sleeping aids vary by brand. Because of this, they influence GABA receptors and stimulate the nervous system differently. Each medication has its own set of health warnings, but almost all can form addictions if used for prolonged periods. This is why doctors typically try to prescribe them only as short-term solutions for patients.
The most common side effects of sleeping aids include dizziness, grogginess, and performance issues to name a few. Additionally, many patients report no recollection of activities performed while sleeping, such as driving a vehicle or using household machinery.
“Patients develop a tolerance over time to their medication, and they’ll likely need to take larger dosages to help them fall asleep,” says Muhammed Niaz MD. “Before long, they become dependent without noticing. Once they stop taking medication, they may begin to experience withdrawal symptoms like headaches and fatigue.”
Most patients don’t recognize the signs of addiction until their bodies have already
developed a need for them. They continue to take medications to cure sleep deprivation while fueling their addiction and often the erosion of vital organs. Sometimes, patients will experience something called “rebound insomnia,” which is a compounded insomnia that can be worse than the original sleep deprivation they experienced.
Sleeping aids are more accessible than ever, with brands like Lunesta and Ambien leading the market. Millions of patients across the country get prescriptions to these medications every year, and they’ve become a growing concern as popularity has grown immensely and younger generations have begun seeking prescriptions.
“Before patients turn to sleeping medications, they should thoroughly discuss the long-term goals and the potential side effects they come with,” says Muhammed Niaz MD. “If they are prescribed, they should only be a small step towards healthier sleeping habits and lifestyle choices instead of a total solution.”