A Simple Breakdown of Sleep Medications

August 09, 2023
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We know it can be confusing when trying to decipher the difference between the hundreds of pharmaceutical interventions that exist today. With the varying results and side effects for the consumer, pharmaceuticals demand a simple breakdown so that you can better understand their benefits and/or drawbacks.

The Two Classes of Sleep Drugs

Over the Counter

The two types of drugs people will come across in their research are over-the-counter medications (OTC) and prescribed medications. OTC medications are what you are likely most familiar with. These can be the first resort for those who are experiencing mild insomnia or sleep disruption. OTC drugs often include diphenhydramine. More commonly referred to as one of its alter egos, Benadryl, diphenhydramine is an allergy medication with significant sedative effects. These are sometimes used without medical direction to bring about short-term sedative effects. The downside, however, is the rapid tolerance and dependence that these drugs build up over a short period of time, making them dubious as a long-term solution.

Another increasingly popular OTC remedy is synthetic melatonin. Synthetic melatonin has the aura of a natural product but is a hormone heavily implicated in sleep regulation. It can be bought at your local pharmacy and some people experience results in using it as a sleep aid and reducing sleep disruptions. Its shortcomings lie in the fact that it is synthetic, it is hard to get the correct dose and the effect falls off early. Synthetic melatonin cannot solve the root of most sleep disorders and it is not recommended for the solution of long-term insomnia.

Prescription

When prescribed medication by a doctor for a sleep disorder, there is a bewildering amount of options that may be chosen. The decision for what medication you are prescribed takes into account your symptoms, past treatments, other illnesses, and more. From these factors, you may be prescribed one of the two major classes of prescribed medications for insomnia: GABA-based benzodiazepines/non-benzodiazepines or sedative antidepressants.

The first classification includes medications that interact with the gamma-aminobutyric acid receptor complex, or GABA for short. These can be either benzodiazepines or non-benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepines are quite effective in their sedative properties, however, patients will find themselves building up a rapid tolerance to them. This, coupled with their addictive properties, is why benzodiazepines are not recommended for long-term use in the treatment of insomnia. Non-benzodiazepine GABA-based medications are an alternative that were developed with the goal of avoiding the adverse effects of regular benzodiazepines. These drugs, also referred to as “Z-Drugs” also provide a sedative effect. They are thought to have lessened side effects, although there remains a risk of dependency, even in the Z-drug family,

Antidepressant medications with sedative properties will also be occasionally employed in the treatment of insomnia. If the insomnia in question is thought to be a symptom of clinical depression, a doctor may prescribe the patient one of these drugs. These medications include the tricyclic family as well as trazodone, mirtazapine, and nefazodone. Sedative antidepressants have their drawbacks, however, with many consumers experiencing a sort of “hangover” in the morning after use.

Other antidepressants such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are known to cause insomnia in the individual, limiting their usage for patients already experiencing insomnia. Researchers note that insomnia that is related to depression typically reduces more rapidly than other symptoms of depression when sedative antidepressants are employed.

Conclusion

Each of these medication types has its uses and drawbacks. Your doctor will prescribe the drug that best suits your current situation to ensure that your insomnia is addressed with efficacy and accuracy. Unfortunately, sleeping medications are far from perfect science. Each class of treatments has its share of side effects which can lead to frustration. Sleep medications are powerful tools that are best understood before beginning them. If that ship has sailed, all is not lost. It is possible to reduce the use of these drugs with your physician’s help. Never do this on your own as there are consequences to rapid withdrawal.

Zenbev Drink Mix

If you are casting about for something natural instead of pharmacological, Zenbev Drink Mix is the best natural sleep aid. Developed by a doctor who understands medications and their power but sought to develop a natural solution, Zenbev has been helping people sleep naturally for years. Before you turn to traditional over-the-counter sleep medications or pills, consider Zenbev’s natural formulation which works withing the body’s systems to mimic natural sleep patterns by providing the nutrients needed to stimulate natural sleep. Wake up feeling refreshed and with the peace of mind that comes from a stress-free solution to your sleep issues.