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Side effect of sleeping pills


Data from: http://hc-sc.gc.ca/seniors-aines/pubs/sleeping_tranq/seniors_sleep/seniors_sleeping_1e.htm

What are Sleeping Pills and Tranquillizers?

Sleeping pills and tranquillizers are drugs which are used to relieve

• anxiety
• stress
• sleeping problems
• muscle tension

They are often called
• sedatives
• nerve pills
• muscle relaxants

Most medications used to relieve anxiety and stress, or help with sleeping problems belong to a family of drugs called benzodiazepines, which must be prescribed by a doctor. Benzodiazepines depress or slow down the central nervous system. These medications are often used for relief of depression, anxiety or sleeping difficulties which may be caused by life changes such as retirement, reduced financial resources, poor health, the loss of loved ones, or physical and social isolation. Also, normal changes in sleeping patterns as we age may be interpreted as a sleeping disorder. While doctors prescribe sleeping pills and tranquillizers less often than in the past, these medications are still used more than they should be to relieve these symptoms.


Effects of Sleeping Pills and Tranquillizers

Sleeping pills and tranquillizers may relieve anxiety and sleeping difficulties but, because they treat the symptoms of stress and not the cause, the relief is only temporary. They may help during a very stressful time, but they are not meant to be used for more than 7 to 10 days.

Side Effects

Aging and severe illness increase the body's sensitivity to sleeping pills and tranquillizers. Most of the side effects of these medications are more likely to occur in seniors. Drugs stay in seniors' bodies longer, therefore the effects of medication can be different in a senior than in a younger person.

The following side effects may be experienced:

  • drowsy during the day
  • groggy
  • confusion and lack of concentration
  • forgetful
  • dizzy or uncoordinated which can result in a fall or another kind of accident
  • irritable
  • anxious
  • depression
  • headache
  • nausea
  • constipation
  • changes in heart rate

Unlike other medications, the side effects do not disappear with continued use.