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Overview of the Different Types of Insomnia Medicine

Despite the many other safer and more natural alternatives, insomnia medicine is still incredibly popular, and some would say, overprescribed and definitely overused. One of the major reasons for this happens to be that insomnia medicine is usually quite effective at allowing a person to sleep, and much easier than many of the other treatment methods available.

However, the problem is that most of them are not suitable for long term use, and often they only mask the underlying issues, which can sometimes lead to more serious consequences for a person's overall level of health.

There are quite a few different types of prescription and over-the-counter insomnia medicine available, some of which are much better than others. If you suffer from insomnia or other sleeping problems, it is recommended that you first try all of the other, more natural methods available to you first, before giving up and relying on potentially dangerous or addictive medications. 

Still, sometimes medication may be the only effective insomnia treatment for some people, so it's good to at least know what types of insomnia medicine are out there and what conditions they are used to treat. This way you can openly discuss the various options with your doctor and hopefully find some form of insomnia treatment that works for you.

Over the Counter Sleeping Pills

Probably the most widely used insomnia medicine has to be over the counter sleeping pills. There are hundreds of different brands available, each with its own unique formula of different chemicals or herbal supplements designed to relax the body and mind to allow a person to fall asleep. 

Many of these sleeping pills contain mild to strong sedatives, tranquilizers, hypnotics, or narcotics, which will definitely make you fall asleep, and usually quite soon after taking them. However, the problem is that not only can these pills be habit forming, but the sleep you get on them is actually quite poor quality.

When taking sleeping pills, you will most often wake up feeling incredibly tired and groggy. Many people report only feeling like they slept for a few hours even if they actually received a full eight hours of sleep, and in actuality, this isn't far from the truth. 

The deep sedative sleep brought on by these pills can't compare to natural sleep, and isn't nearly as restful. In many ways it is very similar to the quality of sleep you get after drinking: you might think you slept long and heavy, but in fact you barely recharged your body at all.


insomnia medicineBenzodiazepines are a group of different tranquilizers that are designed to promote feelings of calmness and relaxation, while reducing stress and anxiety and making a person tired. 

They are actually quite effective in treating short term or temporary sleeping problems, and they will definitely help you to fall asleep quickly and easily. 

Overall, they have many less drawbacks when compared to over the counter sleeping medications, but there is still a risk for certain side effects.

These include headaches, waking up groggy, allergic reaction, memory loss, respiratory problems, depression, and incontinence due to deep sleep.


Nonetheless, benzodiazepines are often used quite successfully to treat some short term insomnia, but there is always a high risk of developing a dependency when using benzodiazepines, so they should never be used for more than two or three weeks at a time. 


Finally, many people experience what is known as rebound insomnia after they stop using this insomnia medicine. This is basically a condition where the sleeping problems start up again almost immediately after discontinuing the use of these pills, but usually this problem only lasts for a few days.

Non-Benzodiazepine Hypnotics (Z Medicines)

A newer group of insomnia medicine that has started to see a large rise in use is hypnotics unrelated to benzodiazepines, often known as "z medicines" due to the fact that the most common drugs either begin with or contain that letter. These drugs were first developed in the 1980's as doctors searched for an alternative to benzodiazepines that worked similarly but didn’t have so many negative side effects.

These medications are now the first choice medical insomnia treatment for the majority of doctors and their use has exploded over the last decade or two. In fact, you are probably at least vaguely familiar with some of the drugs in this group, even if you don't recognize their chemical name. The three most popular drugs in the category are zolpidem, zaleplon, and eszopiclone.

Zolpidem goes by the brand name Ambien, and is probably the most widely used sleeping medication on the market today. It is incredibly effective at treating reoccurring sleep issues, and should never be taken unless you have time to sleep at least 7 or 8 hours, or else you might wake feeling absolutely exhausted and incredibly groggy.

insomnia medicineZaleplon is the drug that works quickest, with most patients falling asleep within 30 minutes of taking it. However, this also means it passes through the body quickly, and its effects usually don't last for more than four hours.

This means it's really only useful for people who only have problems falling asleep but can then remain asleep throughout the night.

Eszopiclone, more commonly known by its brand name Lunesta, is another medication proven to help people more effectively manage their sleeping problems, and is also quite widely used. 

It was also the first sleeping medication to be approved for long term use, making it one of the safest medications for insomnia on the market as well as one of the more effective ones.

Insomnia Medicines Containing Melatonin

insomnia medicineMelatonin is a naturally occurring chemical responsible for our feelings of tiredness, and is often taken by people with sleeping problems. There are many types of natural and herbal sleeping medicine containing melatonin. 

In addition, the FDA has also approved one medication, Circadin, containing melatonin as a safe and effective insomnia treatment option. However, it has only been approved for short term use and only by people who are 55 years of age or older.

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