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Taking sleep medications for insomnia

Filed in
  • Sleeping Pills
  • Insomnia
  • Parasomnias

Sleep Education Archive  |  Mar 14, 2007
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The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) recommends that you talk to your doctor if you have insomnia.

First your doctor will determine the cause of your sleep problem. Insomnia is a complex sleep disorder. It can have a variety of causes, including the following:
  • Depression
  • Shift work or erratic work schedules
  • Stress
  • Medication side effects
  • A medical condition such as arthritis or asthma
  • Another sleep disorder such as obstructive sleep apnea or restless legs syndrome
  • Disturbances to your sleep environment such as noise and light
Once the cause is known, your doctor will decide which treatment option is best for you. Cognitive behavioral therapy is one option that produces long-lasting results for many people with insomnia. You can visit the website of the Society of Behavioral Sleep Medicine to find a behavioral sleep medicine provider who can offer CBT-I.

Sleep medications are another common treatment option. They often are used for the short-term treatment of insomnia. Follow the AASM's Ten Safety Tips for Taking Sleeping Pills for Insomnia to make sure that you use sleep medications safely and properly.

WARNING: Complex sleep behaviors such as sleepwalking or sleep driving can occur when you take a sleeping pill. Read this Consumer Update from the FDA to learn about these safety risks. 

Contact your doctor or pharmacist if you have any other questions about taking sleep medications. For a severe case of ongoing insomnia, your doctor may refer you to the sleep team at an AASM-accredited sleep center.

Updated May 6, 2019

1 Comment

  1. 1 Robert Reny 06 May
    The FDA has also mandated a separate warning to doctors against prescribing the drugs to patients with a history of “complex sleep behavior.”