Taking sleeping pills is increasingly common. But are they safe? What are the side effects? Discover the answers.
In our country, the use of sleeping pills is increasingly frequent. The reason for this may be actual difficulties in sleeping, but also an abusive prescription of these drugs.
About 1/3 of the Portuguese have already had insomniaand in 25% of cases this problem is a consequence of other disorders, such as anxiety or depression🇧🇷 Portugal is even one of the European countries of the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) with the highest consumption of anxiolyticshypnotics and sedatives.
All of this can also be explained by the fact that most of us have poor sleep hygiene, that is, we don’t always go to bed at the same time, we consume caffeinated drinks at night and contact with the lights on the screens of the most varied gadgets, before going to sleep.
Get to know more about the sleep and how to take care of your sleeping pills.
Sleeping pills: everything you need to know
When people find it difficult to fall asleep, wake up frequently during the night, or wake up feeling tired, they are often prescribed sleeping pills. Among the drugs most recommended by doctors in these situations are anxiolytics, sedatives and hypnotics.
All these medicines aim to combat insomnia, effectively and safely. However, sleeping pills do not treat the underlying causes of insomnia and should be a short-term solution, as their prolonged use (for more than 1 month) can pose health risks.
Furthermore, sleeping pills tend to decrease deep sleep and REM sleep and increase shallow sleep and rapid activity during sleep. Therefore, sleep is of lower quality.
Risks and side effects
Like any medicine, sleeping pills are not free of risks or side effects, especially if they are taken for a longer period of time than recommended. Some of these effects can be:
- Drowsiness, confusion and motor incoordination;
- Worsening of insomnia;
- Decreased attention, reaction time and speed of performance;
- Progressive tolerance to the drug, which requires taking increasingly higher doses of the drug;
- Dependence or habituation;
- Abuse potential;
- Withdrawal syndrome characterized by tremors, psychomotor agitation, sweating, palpitationsnausea, vomiting, disorientation, hallucinations and seizures;
- Cognitive deficits and dementia syndromes;
- Interaction with alcoholic beverages and other medications;
- Increased risk of accidents at work or road accidents due to excessive sleepiness.
How to improve the quality of your sleep
(no sleeping pills)
Although in some cases sleeping pills are necessary, it is important to emphasize that taking them must be accompanied by a change in some lifestyle habits.
For correct sleep hygiene, it is important to healthy eating and practice physical exercise regularly. Furthermore, you shouldn’t smokenor drinking alcohol and not consuming caffeinated products during the afternoon or evening.
It is also essential to avoid contact with technology before going to sleep, whether watching television, or using your computer, tablet or smartphone. It is also important to go to bed and wake up early, even on weekends or holidays, in order to create a sleep routine.
Self-medication is always not recommended, especially in the case of sleeping pills, which, as we have seen, carry many health risks if taken for longer than recommended.
Therefore, in case of insomnia or other sleep disorders, you should consult a doctor and scrupulously follow his clinical indications.