Despite the dangerous side effects, sleeping pills are the most popular remedy for sleep disorders. It should be well represented what are their advantages and disadvantages, whether they provide a natural sleep, before resorting to the pharmacological assistance of these remedies.
According to statistics, in the US, annually up to 9 million different sleeping pills are taken. They are the most popular among people over 60 and this age group is only 15% of the world population.
Sleeping pills as a medicine appeared about a hundred years ago. Attempts to normalize sleep with the help of herbal potions and elixirs were made at all times because insomnia is as old as the world.
In the Middle Ages, physicians used medicinal ointments, wipes, compresses and poultices in the treatment of sleep disorders, the same drugs were successfully used for analgesia during operations.
At the end of the XIX century, there were “real” sleeping pills – sleep-inducing medications, namely, paraldehyde and chloral hydrate. They are still on the lists of modern medicines but they are used extremely rare because of the unpleasant taste and smell.
The quality of sleeping pills is determined by three requirements:
- reducing the latency of sleep – the time interval between the moment of bedding and the moment of falling asleep.
- Reduction in the duration and frequency of wakeful periods during the night.
- Increase in the total duration of sleep.
Rapid sleeping pills have an effect on sleep in the first half of the night and slowed down – in the second.
Pills, causing a dream, that is not distinguishable from the natural, would be considered ideal. But, unfortunately, all modern drugs change the structure of sleep and EEG.
Barbiturates suppress paradoxical sleep, reducing by 10 – 15 percent of its duration. After stopping taking sleeping pills, this phase of sleep increases by 40%. The deep slow sleep also suffers, especially at treatment with benzodiazepines.
The hypnotics act brain activity in a dream, not distorting the natural picture on the night after taking the medication and continuing its action the next night, free from it. This is not the best influence.
Ideal sleeping pills should only affect the quality of night sleep, without affecting our state in daytime wakefulness.
But any sleeping pills have aftereffects. Drugs of powerful action, such as Soma and others are violating the psychological state the day after taking the medication. A person may experience drowsiness before noon, fatigue, and reduced mental performance. This condition resembles hangover.
The sedative effect slows down the reaction and the patient is not aware of the sluggish state, which can be fraught with situations requiring the high concentration of attention.
There is one more kind of aftereffect of sleeping pills – “the return of insomnia.”
It is observed with a sharp discontinuation of taking a sleeping pill, which has a short period of excretion from the body and is manifested by a sleep disorder. This is due to the resulting drug dependence on a long-taken drug.
Sleep for several nights becomes more discordant and shallow. If the patient does not sustain and returns to taking this remedy, the drug dependence remains. It’s possible to exclude a similar situation, gradually reducing a dose of the taken sleeping pill.
Concluding, we would like to draw attention to the fact that hypnotics, including Ambien, are powerful remedies, which influence is not limited to the regulation of sleep functions. They aggravate snoring and sleep apnea, have an effect on brain function, so their use should not be chaotic, from case to case. Be careful and the consequences will be minimal.