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Highlights
When to take sleeping pills:
  • Most sleeping pills should be taken right before you get in bed
  • Only take sleeping pills when you are able to sleep 7-8 hours
  • Don't take sleeping pills in the middle of the night

When to take a sleeping pill for insomnia

Filed in
  • Sleeping Pills
  • Insomnia

By Thomas M. Heffron  |  Aug 07, 2013
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sleeping pills

Sleeping pills can be an effective treatment for chronic insomnia. But like any other drug, sleep medications can have side effects. One potential side effect of sleeping pills is daytime drowsiness.

Sleep medications are powerful hypnotics. They can be helpful because they cause a strong urge to sleep. But you don’t want this sleepiness to persist after you wake up.

One way to minimize the risk of daytime drowsiness is to take a sleeping pill at the right time of night. Most sleeping pills – such as Ambien or Lunesta - should be taken right before you get in bed.

You should only take these sleeping pills when you are able to get a full night of sleep. This means that you should take the medication at least seven to eight hours before you need to wake up.

But a new study shows that many people are taking sleeping pills in the middle of the night. The researchers surveyed nearly 2,000 people who have a prescription for sleeping pills.

Results show that 20 percent of respondents reported using a sleep medication in the middle of the night. Some of them even reported taking a sleeping pill twice in the same night.

Taking a sleeping pill in the middle of the night greatly increases the risk of daytime drowsiness. It also raises the risk that you will get out of bed without being  fully awake.  This may lead to problems such as “sleep driving.”

Many people with insomnia wake up in the middle of the night and struggle to go back to sleep. This is called “sleep maintenance insomnia.”

There is one sleeping pill that is FDA approved for sleep maintenance insomnia. Intermezzo can be taken in the middle of the night. You should take it when you have at least four hours of bedtime left.

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.  

Talk to your doctor to determine if a sleeping pill is right for you. Always follow these Ten Safety Tips for Taking Sleeping Pills for Insomnia.

Another effective treatment option is cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia. CBT-I helps you learn new strategies to sleep better. Treatment may include methods such as stress reduction, relaxation and sleep schedule management.

Contact an accredited sleep center to get help for insomnia or another sleep problem. Find a behavioral sleep medicine provider who can offer CBT-I.

Updated May 20, 2019

50 Comments

  1. 1 Mix 29 Sep
    I have been on sleeping pills since 2005 it's now 2020, I worked in the hospital industry so it was easy for me to get a script, I take 10 zopivanes every night sometimes more, I was in rehab once, didn't work...now when I run out of pills and I struggle to sleep but early hours my eyes want to close the moment that happen my body start like going into little fits, feel like I'm falling off a high mountain, I can't explain but I'm so scared if I don't have my pills, what is going on with me?? I stay in CT south africa
  2. 2 Steven Newitt 19 Aug
    I cant sleep doctor has given me zopiclone but now I dont want to get out of bed it's totally distressing
  3. 3 Linda 10 Aug
    I cannot sleep I take a strong pill and that helps me sleep for 2 hours max. This has been happening for over 10 years now and I'm exhausted.  What pill will put me to sleep for at least 6 hours straight 
  4. 4 American Academy of Sleep Medicine 17 Jul
    Hi Ernest, it's  important to follow your prescription and not take more than the dosage that your doctor prescribes. Here are additional safety tips for taking sleeping pills with insomnia.
  5. 5 Ernest 16 Jul
    What's gonna happen if I swallow 3-5 pills at the same time? Am I going to die? Or I need to avoid alcoholic beverages after I swallow it?
  6. 6 chandu netha 28 Jun
    Sir if alcohol drunk person shall we give sleeping pills or not
  7. 7 Jo-ann 17 May
    I took 4 zopivane and 4 Ivedal 10mg sleeping tablets and still could not sleep please help
  8. 8 R N ISMAILY 05 May
    I am suffering from insomnia since last 10 day . Just bcz of changed routine what should I do if i am unable to reset my routine .
  9. 9 Ksundaram 28 Apr
    good tips thank you
  10. 10 American Academy of Sleep Medicine 16 Apr
    Hi G.R. Ramachary, our recommendation is to speak with your physician about any questions regarding your medication.
  11. 11 G.R.Ramachary 16 Apr
    When I take sleeping medicines along food for Insomnia it is not effect? Pl tell me apt time to take..
  12. 12 gianna 01 Apr
    I am 20 years old and I have had sleeping issues for over a year. My issue is falling asleep, I simply can’t and I find myself trying to fall asleep until 5,6am. I was given temazepam 7.5mg which did not put me to bed. Two months later since my doctor told me to give up, she finally put me on 5mg ambien. I just took it and it knocked me out, but I only stayed asleep for 45 minutes and once again still trying to fall asleep at 6 in the morning. Please is there any advice you can give me? 
  13. 13 Ziba 21 Feb
    I take sleeping pill once or twice a week. Even after taking the pill I wake up in between. Sound wakes me up.. why does this happen? 
  14. 14 Connie 29 Jan
    I take Zolpidem but cant fall sleep unless taking two of them. Am I allowed to take more than two? do lot of exercises e.g road runner, aerobics etc. 
  15. 15 Vikashni 26 Jan
    I have severe depression, since age 30, now 60. Still take ivedal 10mg sometimes during day, it relaxes me. The problem is, it works with the darkness and ambience of night. If u take it at sa.e time, no cell phone or blue light close your eyes, try say some repetitive manthra, u only wake up next day, relaxed. Good sleep hygiene and calm atmosphere also helps.jj
  16. 16 AASM 23 Dec
    Hi Celestine, our recommendation is to speak with a physician or a sleep center near you. You can find a listing of these centers on our website at www.sleepeducation.org/find-a-facility.
  17. 17 AASM 23 Dec
    Hi Kiki, we recommend contacting an accredited member sleep center in your area for help. You can find a listing of these centers on our website at www.sleepeducation.org/find-a-facility.
  18. 18 Celestine 23 Dec
    Please I have been having sleeping disorder for more than 25 years now but now I can not sleep at all for night and day even after taken sleeping pill what else can I do
  19. 19 Kiki 20 Dec
    Help
  20. 20 Kiki 20 Dec
    Guys please help sleeping pills does not help
  21. 21 AASM 20 Dec
    Hi Myrna, our recommendation is to speak with a physician or a sleep center near you. You can find a listing of these centers on our website at www.sleepeducation.org/find-a-facility.
  22. 22 Myrna muneyasu 19 Dec
    Can't sleep without the sleeping pills or anti anxiety drugs. And to make things worse I think I’m getting addicted to them. How can I make myself feel better and sleep better? Please help me 
  23. 23 Pap 09 Oct
    How many dose just minimum one hours
  24. 24 kanniah seshiah 26 Aug
    Cant sleep well and I am taking BP  medicines prescribed by physician .will anabolic sleeping pills by GNC help? 
  25. 25 Raj 19 Aug
    I am mentalhelth problem &abnormal what can I do?
  26. 26 Emily 30 Jul
    @Amanda You should try cbd oil, or cbd spray. CBD helps treat anxiety.. One month and you will feel better. It's NOT Addictive. Just hard to purchase, because always sold out. 
  27. 27 Amanda 30 Jul
    I feel anxious. Can't sleep without the sleeping pills and xanax. And to make things worse I think I’m getting addicted to them. How can I make myself feel better and sleep better?
  28. 28 Caroline 11 Jun
    Hi are sleeping pills bad for you I'm taking one every  nite t
  29. 29 Shivam 20 May
    Please suggest best sleeping pills
  30. 30 Ahammed Ali 16 May
    I am 30 years old due to huge work I cant sleep even at nights and also fights at my home.Please suggest me a good sleeping tablet so that I dont wake even some one tries to disturb me 
  31. 31 vandy 30 Apr
    I used to take sleeping pill when i m not able to go for sleep. it is ok and i have two month old baby and i used to feed him.
  32. 32 Dorothy 13 Apr
    I take Zolpidem at night it used to help.but for 3 nights now I had to take another half then I sleep. Is that ok?
  33. 33 Juliette 08 Apr
    I have a hard time sleeping because my household is kinda toxic, they don't realize it but i feel so broken because of them. Is there anything i don't need a prescription for or certain age to purchase that can make me solidly sleep for at least four hours without anyone being able to wake me? or a pill to make me happy, that would help too. 
    well thanks if you can help 
  34. 34 Jex 19 Mar
    Plz ... Suggest me best sleeping pills that , if I take that just before bed then no one be able to wake me up
  35. 35 Doreen 27 Jan
    Have been taking 7.5 immovane (half a tablet) for 9 years.....should I be worried....only problem I have is a bit of  unsteadiness when I walk.  Pills work super for a good night's sleep!
  36. 36 Christina Craig 17 Jan
    Is it possible my sleeping pill doesn't help me sleep I take restless legsi.I  and Neurontin  for my feet,and a sleeping pill.  I still can't fall asleep.
  37. 37 Peter S 05 Jan
    Due to being depressed and struggling to sleep, I used 2 Ivedal with in hours of taking the first pill, and had drank at 
  38. 38 Om 02 Jan
    My mother has prescribed by doctor to take sleeping pills but after taking she behaves like Mind upset lady what to do I am worry about my mother 
  39. 39 Amy Paige 18 Dec
    @Susan L You should try cbd oil, or cbd spray. CBD helps treat anxiety.. One month and you will feel better. It's NOT Addictive. Just hard to purchase, because always sold out.
  40. 40 Susan L 18 Dec
    I feel anxious. Can't sleep without the sleeping pills or anti anxiety drugs. And to make things worse I think I’m getting addicted to them. How can I make myself feel better and sleep better?
  41. 41 Kasi P Navaratnam 12 Dec
    I am on Aprazolam 0.5mg (anti depression pill) and take two pills at an interval of one hour every night and it takes two hours of struggling on my bedbefore I close my eyes and the sleep does not last that long. This med. is given to induce sleep. Can some one pls adv. me as to whether this med. is the right med. to induce sleep or has the Physician has given me the wrong med. Also, if this med. also induce sleep, when should I take before retiring to bed.
    Kasi
    Would appreciate a reply from a med. professional as this is an ongoing problem for me
     
  42. 42 Shekhar 28 Nov
    I am not falling asleep from last 3 nights even I HV taken two sleeping pills yesterday night but still it's not working.kindly suggest some advice
  43. 43 Grato 14 Nov
    I cannot sleep at all at night 15years!taki ta450 mg of pregalin 8mg of lenozap 2 mg of restyle n 50mg of fludacin!stillwake up at midnight and cannot sleep!pl plea advise what tablet to take after waking up at midnight.thanks
  44. 44 Tom 07 Nov
    I take 5-10mg per night of ambien
  45. 45 Soozi dinnie 29 Aug
    i take zopimed ie stilnox 10 mg or the 12.5 slow release one and STILL can't fall asleep easily. I take it at 7 and am still awake at 11👀🙈HELP.   Then I take a xanor 0.5 mg which helps a bit more.  Please give advice ........ 
  46. 46 Rodney 23 Apr
    I think ambien (zolpidem) is the best for sleep if used right.   Take it at bedtime, two hours after your last meal.    If you take this medication on a empty stomach your asking for trouble(sleep walking sleep eating or worst, sleep driving.    Some times 10mg is too much so cut pill in half,if you wake up two or three hours later take the other half.  You might be able to get enough sleep using just 5mg.   Less is sometimes better.  Good. Luck &Happy Trails
  47. 47 Kapur 03 Apr
    my father, 96 years of age, has a problem falling asleep even after taking zolfresh 5mg. He wakes up with 3to 4 hours, and is awake for a couple of hours. What is a good time to take the pill? 
  48. 48 Kyle4uk 08 Nov
    Khen I take sleeping pills myself as well as more MS and seizure meds then I care to count and know that for me I have a small window after taking the sleeping pill until it seems like the effects wear off but then seem to make a magic return early
    the next morning 
    The only things to save me during the day is a strong steroid Nuvigil and way to much caffeine I'm not sure if my response helps at all 
  49. 49 khen 23 Sep
    Is it possible that sleeping pill will not effect on elderly whose taking lots of medicine..my grandfather is taking stilnox at night but the pill is not effective on him, but during morning he tends to sleep a lot, does it mean that the pill effect on him after 8 hours?
  50. 50 Don 05 Jun
    Thanks tons

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