Are you seeking OTC (over the counter) sleeping pills or want to ask your health care provider for a prescription sleep pill to remedy insomnia or another sleep issue? Then read this health blurb to acquire some basic knowledge on your sleeping pill options.
In most OTC sleeping pills, the ingredient that will help you sleep is diphenhydramine, an antihistamine. This drug induces sleep by having a sedative effect. Why is not fully understood, but it’s believed that histamines play a role in wakefulness. And OTC sleeping pills block the action histamines.
OTC sleeping pills containing diphenhydramine are sold with this active ingredient only or in combination with pain relievers, fever reducers and decongestants. So, when all you need is a sleep pill the active ingredient label should only list diphenhydramine.
Because the active ingredient in OTC sleeping pills also combats hay fever, allergic reaction and cold symptoms, you’ll likely experience a dry mouth, nose and throat. This drying is beneficial for upper respiratory congestion, but it can be an uncomfortable side effect if this health condition is not present.
Other possible drug side effects include:
- nausea, vomiting
- acute labyrinthitis
- muscle weakness
- anaphylactic shock
- constipation, diarrhea
- appetite loss, anorexia
- chest tightness, wheezing
- increased chest congestion
- rash caused by drug allergy
- vision problems, blurred vision, double vision
- urination difficulty, urine retention, painful urination
- irritability, excitement, nervousness, restlessness, confusion
Taking a OTC sleeping pill is not recommended if you suffer from:
- heart disease
- chronic bronchitis
- other lung diseases
- enlarged prostate gland
- overactive thyroid gland
- are pregnant, breast-feeding
OTC sleeping pills should not be used by a child under age 4 and special precautions need to be followed for older children. As an aside, taking a OTC sleeping pill can help with motion sickness too.
A prescription sleep pill contains a sedative to induce sleep, often a barbiturate. Usually not recommended for use every night because of the risk of dependency, but they’re intended to offer an occasional opportunity for rest. For those with chronic sleep problems, treating the underlying cause is far more beneficial.
Before prescribing a sleeping pill, your health care should try to rule out any underlying health condition that might be causing you sleep difficulties, i.e. test for sleep apnea. Once a decision is made that a prescription sleep pill is appropriate, you may need to try more than one to discover which one works best for you.
Side effects associated with prescription sleeping pills include:
- facial swelling
- drowsiness hangover
- severe allergic reaction
- bloating, abdominal pain, constipation, nausea digestive problems
If you experience drowsiness during the day, you probably need a dosage adjustment or wean off your sleep pill altogether. And prescription sleeping pills are not advisable if you have certain health conditions, like liver or kidney disease.