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Treating Insomnia: Which Sleeping Pill Is Right for You?

Treating insomnia depends on the type of insomnia you have and the severity of your symptoms. 

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, treatment consists of improving sleep habits, behavior therapy, and identifying and treating underlying causes. 

Sleeping pills may also be used as part of your insomnia treatment plan. Here’s more information about how different sleeping pills work and which one is right for you.

The Right Sleeping Pill for You

Depending on what kind of sleep problem you have, your doctor might recommend a few different treatments. For example, 

  • If you have trouble falling asleep, your doctor may suggest behavioral therapy to retrain your brain and body to fall asleep naturally or a sleeping pill to help you fall asleep faster. 
  • If you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t fall back asleep, it could be that your sleep cycle is off. In that case, medication could help reset your natural sleep pattern and improve how long you stay asleep at night. 
  • Finally, if insomnia is caused by depression or another mental health issue like anxiety disorder, antidepressants can sometimes be an effective treatment. 
  • But there are also non-drug options—like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)—for insomnia tied to depression or anxiety. 

Just remember that all insomnia treatments aren’t created equal. Only treat your insomnia with a prescription or over-the-counter drug after talking with your doctor about whether it’s safe and right for you. 

Be especially careful when mixing alcohol with sleeping pills because both cause drowsiness; combining them could result in dangerous side effects.

Experts point out that every person reacts differently to medications, so trying multiple drugs until you find one that works best is always recommended as well.

Why treat with Sleeping Pill?

Prescription sleeping pills are one of the most common treatments for insomnia. Doctors often prescribe them if your sleeplessness has lasted at least four weeks, is caused by another condition, or is severe enough to interfere with daily life. 

There are two types of sleep drugs available: 

  1. Non-benzodiazepines and 
  2. Benzodiazepines. 

Both can effectively ease symptoms such as waking up often during sleep, trouble falling asleep, and excessive daytime sleepiness. 

It’s important to understand how each drug works because they can have different side effects—and may even interact with other medications you take. Here’s what you need to know about prescription sleeping pills.

Treating Insomnia With Sleeping Pills


Many sleeping pills have been taken off the market in recent years because of a risk of dependence and rebound insomnia when they are discontinued.

One alternative is zopiclone in the UK, marketed as Imovane. Though considered by some to be less effective than traditional sleeping pills, it may be an option if you have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. 

This is one of the best medications to treat insomnia.


This is a new anti-insomnia drug (it’s only been on the market since 2007) that has shown promise in helping people fall asleep. 

It affects both serotonin and norepinephrine, which are neurotransmitters believed to be responsible for regulating sleep. This is also called a dual reuptake inhibitor and works on both types of receptors in your brain. 

Mirtazapine doesn’t have many side effects except weight gain, dizziness, and dry mouth.


An urgent prescription drug, Clonazepam, helps relieve insomnia in adults with mild-to-moderate stress and anxiety levels. 

The most common side effects of Clonazepam include drowsiness, dizziness, memory impairment, and confusion. 

This medication can also be habit-forming and may lead to reduced coordination or impaired judgment.

Melatonin (over-the-counter)

If you don’t want to use a prescription sleeping pill, you can try over-the-counter melatonin. 

This hormone is secreted by your brain’s pineal gland and is sometimes called the sleep hormone. 

Studies have shown that taking melatonin before bedtime can help people fall asleep quickly and stay asleep all night long. 

However, melatonin has side effects, so talk to your doctor before using it.


The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved trazodone, one of many medications in a class of drugs called sedative-hypnotics. 

When used as directed, trazodone treats insomnia by altering your sleep cycle and allowing you to fall asleep and stay asleep. 

If you can’t sleep, contact your doctor about trying a prescription sleeping pill like trazodone.

Advantages of using pills to treat insomnia

Many people take sleeping pills to treat insomnia because they offer a quicker and more effective solution than behavior therapy. 

Some studies show that people who take zolpidem (Ambien), temazepam (Restoril), or eszopiclone (Lunesta) fall asleep faster and sleep better than those who use other methods. There are many other advantages including-

Ease of use: 

It’s very easy to take a pill and go to sleep without having to force yourself to remain awake to fall asleep, like with behavioral methods. 

This also applies when using over-the-counter supplements such as melatonin or valerian root.


Taking pills is less intrusive and embarrassing than other methods like wearing a sleep mask or noise machine. 

In some cases, people taking pills will even sleep in their bed rather than on a couch or guest room. 

This can be helpful when you have to get up early in the morning since falling asleep with noise machines, or light-blocking masks can make it difficult to wake up at your usual time.

No effort required: 

If you need to fall asleep as soon as possible, there’s no easier method than popping a pill and waiting for it to kick in. 

For example, if you’re on vacation and want to sleep through a large portion of your day without leaving your hotel room, sleeping pills are perfect.


If you are on a tight budget, taking sleeping pills is cheaper than hiring a sleep coach or buying expensive self-help books and apps.


Identifying and treating underlying causes of insomnia can help you get to sleep faster and stay asleep longer. 

It’s also a good idea to follow some basic guidelines regarding sleep habits—setting regular bedtimes, removing distractions like smartphones from your bedroom, avoiding food and caffeine right before bedtime, etc.

All of these strategies can improve your likelihood of having a restful night’s sleep. Doctors may also prescribe medications or offer counseling as part of an overall treatment plan for those who have chronic insomnia.

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