Sleep Education

American Academy of Sleep Medicine 

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Possible Side Effects of Sleep Medication

Every medication has the potential to cause some side effects. These are often mild. Examples include dizziness and an upset stomach. But side effects also can be much more severe. You should discuss this issue in detail with your medical provider.

Find out about the side effects that are common with your medication. You should also find out if any risks are involved. Your medical provider can help you compare the potential risks and benefits of using the drug. Women who are pregnant or nursing a baby should find out if they have special risks.

Detailed information comes with your medication. It describes all the possible side effects. Read this information carefully before using the medication. Talk to your medical provider, nurse or pharmacist if you have questions or concerns.

Many medications can cause dependence when you take them for a long time. You may have strong side effects if you suddenly stop using the drug. Your body also may develop a tolerance to the medication. This means that you need to take higher doses of the drug for it to remain effective.

Serious side effects are more likely to occur when you do not take the medication properly. Follow the instructions that come with your prescription. Take only the amount of medication that your medical provider prescribes. You should also take it only as often as he or she instructs you.

Your instructions will also tell you the time of day when you should take the medication. Many sleeping pills must be taken just before you go to bed. Make sure you know if you should take the medication with or without food. Most sleeping pills should be taken on an empty stomach.

Your medical provider also should keep track of your treatment progress while you are taking a drug. Keep him or her informed of any other medications that you take. You must be careful when taking more than one medication at a time. Some drugs can cause severe problems when they interact with other drugs.

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

Updated May 6, 2019

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