Sleep Education

American Academy of Sleep Medicine 

Find a Center
Use the following fields to locate sleep centers in your area.

Search radius:

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
Email   Print

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.

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 a behavioral sleep medicine provider to learn more about CBT-I.


  1. 1 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.
    Would appreciate a reply from a med. professional.
    as this is an ongoing problem for me
  2. 2 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
  3. 3 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
  4. 4 Tom 07 Nov
    I take 5-10mg per night of ambien
  5. 5 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 ........ 
  6. 6 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
  7. 7 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? 
  8. 8 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 
  9. 9 khen 23 Sep
    Is it possible that sleeping pill will not effect on elderly whose taking lots of 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?
  10. 10 Don 05 Jun
    Thanks tons