The very first thing to know is that not all sleep medicines are the identical. “The parable is, ‘It doesn’t matter which one you select, all of them work the identical method, all of them do the identical factor.’ They don’t,” mentioned Dr. Andrew D. Krystal, a psychiatrist on the College of California, San Francisco, who makes a speciality of sleep problems. Some medication, like zaleplon (Sonata), lower the period of time it takes to go to sleep, he mentioned; whereas others, equivalent to suvorexant (Belsomra), block alerts within the mind that trigger you to get up. The hormone melatonin, in addition to pharmaceuticals like ramelteon (Rozerem) that act on melatonin receptors, assist regulate the physique’s inside clock however don’t essentially enable you keep asleep.

The very best drug for you’ll largely rely on what causes your insomnia. “It truly is about selecting the best medicine for the affected person,” mentioned Dr. Aruna S. Rao, a neurologist at Johns Hopkins Drugs. In case your drawback is that you could’t go to sleep at bedtime, then a drug that forestalls you from waking in the midst of the night time could not assist. If you happen to go to sleep simply however can’t sleep towards the top of the night time, then medication that put on off inside just a few hours, like zaleplon (Sonata), aren’t going to do you a lot good, both.

Many individuals, too, have sleeping issues that received’t be resolved with any sleeping capsule. One such situation is sleep apnea, which afflicts 22 million people in the United States and causes frequent wake-ups, mentioned Dr. Grace Pien, a pulmonary, crucial care and sleep medication doctor at Johns Hopkins Drugs. Sleep apnea is finest managed with a machine that gives steady constructive airway strain (CPAP), not with medicine.

One other difficulty is that many sleep aids don’t have convincing knowledge behind them. The over-the-counter antihistamines I used to take, which include diphenhydramine, “had been by no means actually systematically studied for his or her results on sleep,” Dr. Krystal mentioned. They’re acknowledged for his or her allergy advantages however are sometimes used as a sleep help as a result of they trigger drowsiness, he added. The few research which were finished on diphenhydramine recommend that it doesn’t assist a lot in any respect: Clinical practice guidelines from the American Academy of Sleep Drugs say the antihistimine’s advantages, when it comes to additional sleep, are “under the extent of clinically important enchancment.”

Sleep aids can even have negative effects, a few of them critical. A 2017 research discovered that, in comparison with older adults who didn’t take sleeping medicines, those that took sleep aids of any form really helpful by their physician had been 34 percent more likely to suffer a fall, maybe as a result of the medication affected their stability or incited clumsiness. One other research discovered that individuals who had lately, for the primary time, been prescribed sleep medicines equivalent to temazepam, trazodone or zolpidem (Ambien) had been 90 p.c extra more likely to be involved in car crashes, and that their elevated threat was on par with that of driving drunk. Some analysis even means that the long-term use of hypnotic medication equivalent to nordazepam, clonazepam (Klonopin), flurazepam (Dalmane) and zolpidem (Ambien) can more than double the risk of dementia.