Sleep Disorders Treatment Prescription Aids

For people suffering from insomnia, there are a variety of prescription sleep aids that can provide relief. However, while pills can be an effective treatment for sleeping disorders, they come with certain risks. Learn more about sleeping pills for insomnia and how prescription sleep aids may help you sleep better.

Choosing the Best Sleeping Pills

The best sleeping pills promote restful sleep with a minimum of side effects. The list of sleeping pills is long and different sleep aids work better for different people.

Talk to your doctor about possible side effects of prescription sleep aids and how sleeping pills can interact with other medications. Some sleep aids can be habit-forming or have serious side effects, such as allergic reactions or unusual sleep-related behaviors.

Follow these guidelines while using any sleeping pills for insomnia:

  • Avoid alcohol.
  • Report any mood changes to your doctor.
  • Tell your doctor about medications and supplements you currently take.
  • Use caution while driving or operating machinery.
  • Use only as directed.

Sleeping pills for insomnia are often used in conjunction with lifestyle changes or other insomnia treatments.

A Short List of Sleeping Pills

The following list of sleeping pills includes some common over-the-counter and prescription sleep aids. Remember, the best sleeping pills differ from one individual to another. Other medications, personal responses to sleep aids and the root cause of insomnia all affect sleep aid choices.

Diphehydramine and Doxylamine

Diphehydramine and doxylamine are both antihistamines. Usually taken for allergies, these over-the-counter products can also treat short-term insomnia. Over-the-counter sleep aids should not be used for chronic insomnia.


This prescription sleep aid can cause drowsiness the day following its use, especially in its more potent, long-lasting forms. Benzodiazepines can be habit forming; you may also build up a tolerance if you take them regularly.


Non-benzodiazepines are the most common prescription sleep aids. Non-benzodiazepines are less habit forming than other sleeping pills. Common non-benzodiazepines prescribed as sleeping pills for insomnia and other sleep disorders include zolpidem (Ambien®), eszopiclone (Lunesta®) and zaleplon (Sonata®).

Melatonin Receptors

Melatonin receptors stimulate production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep cycles. Over-the-counter herbal melatonin sleep aids are available, as are prescription sleep aids that mimic melatonin’s effects. Melatonin receptors are not as effective as other prescription sleep aids for some sleep problems, but they produce fewer side effects.

Other Prescription Sleep Aids

Barbiturates and antidepressants may also be included on a list of sleeping pills. Barbiturates are rarely prescribed because they are addictive and can cause fatal overdoses.

Some antidepressants can be effective in treating sleep disorders related to depression.

Side Effects of Sleeping Pills

Sleep medication comes with risks and side effects. Prescription sleep aids can produce side effects on their own or when mixed with other medicines, so choosing the best sleeping pills can become complicated.

Your doctor will let you know for how long it is safe for you to use sleep medications. She can also advise you how to stop sleeping pill use and avoid withdrawal symptoms or rebound insomnia.


Robinson, L., Kemp, G.,