Before deciding to take prescription sleep aids, you need to read the following …
- Chapter 7 of Insomniac by Gayle Greene
- DarkSideOfSleepingPills.com by Dr. Daniel F. Kripke
- Read the book Effortless Sleep Method
- Search the web / forums / blog of your particular drug
There are many other places that warns of the dangers of sleeping drugs and user testimonials of their reactions. Some of which are downright scary. You read things like getting suicidal and homocidal tendencies, sleep eating binges, sleep driving and getting the car wrecked, hallucinations, paranoia, physical symptoms such as heart arrhythmias, seizures, aches, and pain, and many other.
And then there is increase tolerance and dependence where you need higher and higher doses to have the same effect. And then unable to get off them because of withdrawal symptoms and rebound effects. Do not cold turkey stop, rather wean with doctor supervision. People say things like harder to get off than heroin. And things like if I knew it was this hard to get off, I would never have started.
Each person’s reaction to a sleep drug can be very different. A drug that works wonder for one person, can be a nightmare for another. For any particular drug, you see comments all over the internet ranging from from awful to great. It all depends on the persons genetic profile whether a particular drug is suitable for the person or not. Should also start a new drug at a low dose and taper up. You never know your reaction to a new drug. There are advice to have your partner hide the car keys until your reaction to a new drug is known.
You don’t want to sleep drive and wreck the car like this person wrote about (picture of car included).
Interestingly enough, the article he wrote about was the prescription drug Xyrem, which he found more favorable than any other sleep drug he tried. He never had sleep driving episode with Xyrem, but with the other sleep drug he used previously.
Xyrem is actually difficult to get. Both the article and Chapter 7 of Insomniac suggest routes for getting it prescribed to you if you really must take a sleep drug.
Galye Greene of Insomniac wrote that Xyrem is quite different (in a positive way) from other drugs, but still have mixed thoughts about it. She still sticks to her Ambien. Her is what she had to say about Xyrem and Ambien in her book …
“After the two, three, or four hours I get on my own, I take Ambien or Xyrem to finish out the night (Ambien more than Xyrem).”
Steven Fowkes however seem to prefer Xyrem over Ambien in this Google Talk video. Xyrem is a brand name for the drug Sodium Oxybate which enhances the stage 3 and stage 4 phase of sleep.
Dr. Hughes in this UCTV Video talks about types of sleep drugs.
Based on all that I read, I would not take any prescription sleep drugs until I have tried everything else first including sleep supplements (which are many times safer than prescription sleep drugs).
However, whether to take prescription drugs or not is very controversial. Some doctors readily writes them and perhaps over-prescribe. And other doctors are biased against them and under-prescribe. Whether to take or not take sleep prescriptions is an individual decision and depends a lot on how bad your insomnia is.
But to be fair and show both sides of the argument, here is an except from Dr. William Dement’s book “The Promise of Sleep” where he supports the use of sleep drugs…
“Yet it seems to me that taking sleeping pills to get good sleep — even for extended periods — is inherently no more sinful than taking daily doses of heart medication or an antidepressant, such as Prozac. If a nonaddictive sleeping pill that does not induce tolerance and has very few side effects is the only way that someone can get good sleep and feel fully awake during the day, there is nothing “sinful” in taking it. These medications can save lives and are justifiable if their benefits outweigh their risks.”
He says that sleep drugs have come a long way and gotten better from the days of old (where there were problems with them). He further writes…
“But most sleep specialists believe that Ambien is currently our best available drug treatment for insomnia: It induces sleep with he fewest side effects in the most people”
And on page 415, he writes …
“If long-term use of sleeping pills by elderly patients is to be considered seriously, the medication must be chosen carefully. A primary hazard is the potential for developing tolerance and rebound insomnia. Only the hypnotics Ambien and Halcion have passed adequate double-blind, controlled clinical trials to verify safety and efficacy in elderly patients. These drugs do not induce tolerance or cause rebound insomnia when used in the proper doses.”
This book was written in 1999.