Health

Important Facts You Should Know About Sleeping Pills in the UK

a young man in pajamas in bed about to take a blue pill

Are you having trouble sleeping and considering taking medication? While sleeping pills UK can help you sleep in the short term if you can’t sleep for some reason, they also have some serious negative effects to consider.

What exactly are sleeping pills?

Sleeping tablets are sedatives that may be recommended if you are having trouble sleeping or have insomnia. However, there are risks associated with all forms of sleeping pills, including becoming addicted to them.

The risks and advantages of this sort of treatment vary per medicine, and most doctors now aim to avoid prescribing sleeping tablets as much as possible due to the potential for difficulties.

Where can you purchase sleeping pills?

Sleeping pills in the UK are only accessible on prescription. Before prescribing a sleeping tablet, your doctor may ask you questions about your sleeping habits to learn more about your insomnia. He or she may also conduct some easy tests to rule out any underlying diseases that could be causing sleep problems. They should also talk to you about non-drug methods for sleeping, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and basic sleep hygiene.

Sleeping tablets are available in a variety of forms.

In the United Kingdom, the following sleeping tablets are currently available on prescription and over-the-counter:

  • Benzodiazepines and other so-called “Z-drugs”

The most widely prescribed sleeping medications are benzodiazepines and ‘Z-drugs,’ which are only available with a prescription. Benzodiazepines include the following:

  • Temazepam
  • Nitrazepam
  • Lormetazepam
  • Loprazolam

Drugs that work similarly to benzodiazepines are commonly referred to as “Z-drugs” since their names begin with the letter Z, such as zopiclone and zolpidem.

  • Antihistamines

Antihistamines aren’t technically sleeping pills in the UK because they’re typically used to treat allergies like hay fever. However, the sedating forms of antihistamines can help cause drowsiness and sleep, so they can be prescribed or purchased from a pharmacist without a prescription to help with sleep issues.

Antihistamines aren’t as strong as benzodiazepines and Z-drugs, and they can leave you feeling hungover the next day. Because they might produce rebound insomnia if taken for a long time, current UK guidelines do not encourage using them primarily as a sleeping aid.

  • Melatonin

Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone produced by the body that helps to regulate daily body cycles and is used to treat jet lag in some countries (but not the UK). Slow-release melatonin is approved for use as a therapy for chronic insomnia in persons aged 55 and up. It is usually administered for three weeks at first, and then for another ten weeks if it is found to be beneficial. Drowsiness, confusion, and falls have all been observed with melatonin, just as they have with benzodiazepines and Z-drugs.

  • Antidepressant tablets

If your doctor believes sadness or anxiety is causing your insomnia, antidepressant medications may be investigated as a therapeutic option. Barbiturates, chloral hydrate, and chlormethiazole were once employed as therapy options, but they are no longer used.

  • Natural Remedies

Some over-the-counter herbal treatments, such as valerian, magnesium, and chamomile, may assist promote tiredness. Supplement makers, unlike pharmaceutical companies, do not require to prove that their goods are safe or effective before selling them. If you’re thinking about using herbal sleep remedies, talk to your pharmacist first.

How can you go off sleeping pills?

If you’re using sleeping pills in the UK and think you’ve developed a dependency, gradually reduce the dose with the advice of your doctor rather than discontinuing them all at once.

Switching to a different benzodiazepine, diazepam, may be recommended by your doctor because it is easier to gradually reduce the dose of this drug than others. It may also be easier to reduce and discontinue sleeping pills when on vacation (away from life’s stresses) or after a major crisis has passed.

Some people experience poorer sleep when they reduce their sleeping pills, but when they stop taking them entirely, they usually feel considerably better physically and psychologically.

Warnings and recommendations for sleeping pills

Before you decide to take sleeping pills, read the following advice:

  • Sleeping pills should not be administered without first assessing and treating other probable causes of insomnia, such as itching, dyspnea, indigestion, or pain, which can often be managed without the use of sleeping pills.
  • Check with your doctor or pharmacist to be sure you’re not taking any other medications that could be causing you to have trouble sleeping.
  • Keep in mind that discontinuing sleeping pills may result in some nights of disturbed sleep.
  • Consult your doctor if you have any concerns about the impact sleeping pills may be having on you.