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What are Sleeping Pills?

  • By Admin
  • Sep 05, 2022
What are Sleeping Pills?

There are five things that we need to survive. Most of these are easy enough to get in one form or another in the western world - food, water, air, and shelter. However, the fifth can elude even the richest of people - sleep. No matter how much money someone may have, sleep cannot be bought, apart from via the use of sleeping pills.

Sleeping pills come in many different forms, from herbal sleeping pills such as valerian root and passionflower, to pharmaceutical tablets that are primarily used for other conditions, such as antihistamines, which are usually used for allergies but also induce sleep, to sleeping tablets specifically used for sleeping disorders.

These types of sleeping pills are the most effective sleeping pills of them all, as they have been discovered, tested, and manufactured with the sole purpose of helping people to get to sleep more quickly, for longer and with less chance of waking up in the night. They are developed by large pharmaceutical companies that have spent years testing these tablets to ensure that they are not only effective, but also safe.

What are Sleeping Tablets Used for?

As previously mentioned, sleeping tablets are typically used for sleeping disorders, of which there are several. Some of the more common sleep conditions that affect people around the world are:

  • Insomnia - the most common sleep disorder, insomnia is defined as when you cannot get to sleep, when you are unable to stay asleep during the night, or when you wake up the next day but very early. Insomnia comes in several different forms, with the two broadest definitions being acute, also known as short-term, and chronic, also known as long-term. Whereas many people suffer from short-term insomnia for various reasons; usually life events such as a breakup, a bereavement, or a job loss. Chronic insomnia is rarer but much more devastating.
  • Obstructive Sleep Apnoea - this relatively common condition is where the walls of the airways narrow and disrupt breathing. This can result in interrupted sleep. Often those who suffer from this condition do not know that they have it. It is thought that between 15% to 30% of men suffer from this condition, and 10% to 30% of women do.
  • Restless Legs Syndrome - this condition is where you have the overwhelming urge to move your legs and may experience strange sensations which may encourage this. This condition can make it difficult to sleep and may wake people during the night. It is thought to affect between 5-10% of the population.

How Do Sleeping Pills Work?

Although there are many different types of sleeping pills, the main types, benzodiazepines, and non-benzodiazepines (also known as Z-drugs), work in very similar ways. They function by affecting a neurotransmitter known as gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA. They increase the levels of GABA in the body by binding to GABA receptors, which are split into GABA-A receptors, and GABA-B receptors. These receptors have different functions but serve similar purposes when interacting with sleeping pills.

Once these receptors, located in the central nervous system, are bound to, they release more GABA. GABA subsequently affects the transmission of messages in the central nervous system, from the brain to the spine and across our nerve cells, by reducing the messages that are sent. With fewer messages sent, the activity in the central nervous system is reduced, which means we relax more, feel more tired, and are better able to fall asleep quickly.

The Correct Sleeping Pills Dosage

The correct dosage of sleeping pills depends on the specific sleeping pills that you are taking. Like all medications, the part of sleeping tablets that makes them work is the active ingredient. Each medication will have a different amount of active ingredient contained in them, depending on how strong the active ingredient is, and how much is needed to cause the intended effects. We recommend that you read the patient information leaflet carefully for the medication you intend on taking, before consumption, to ensure that you are taking the right amount for you.

Although there is a manufacturer-recommended dose, depending on the severity of your condition, this does not always apply to all people. For example, it is recommended that people over the age of 65 take a lower dose. This is for several reasons. Firstly, it is known that older people have a lower ability to process medications in the body. This means that more of the medication stays active in the body at one time, so a lower dose is needed.

Additionally, it is recommended that those who suffer from poor organ function, such as reduced liver or kidney function, also take a lower dose of medication. This is because the liver and kidneys are usually used to process sleeping tablets, so if these are not working at 100%, it can put unnecessary strain on them, and can mean that they are not excreted from the body properly as they should be.

The Benefits of Sleeping Tablets

There are many benefits to taking sleeping tablets. Because sleep is such an essential part of our lives, we need to ensure that we are getting the right amount of sleep every day. Fortunately, sleeping pills can help to manage acute or chronic insomnia to help us to get at least the 7 hours of sleep a night that we need.

It has been found that getting less than 7 hours of sleep regularly can lead to significant health issues, which points to the importance of being well rested. Some of the effects of getting too little sleep are:

  • The effects on the central nervous system. It is said that a lot of what we have learned over the past day is processed during sleep, as pathways form in our brain that help to remember the new information. When we are sleep deprived, our ability to learn and function in our studies or in the workplace is inhibited. Furthermore, we are more prone to mood swings and irritability. It can affect some peoples moods so severely that they might be subject to depression, paranoia, and suicidal thoughts.
  • The effects on the immune system. While we sleep, our bodies develop substances that help to fight diseases, such as antibodies and cytokines. It is often found that people who do not get enough sleep, often feel more run-down regularly, and are found to be more likely to suffer from more severe illnesses too.

Side Effects from Sleeping Pills

Like any medication, sleeping pills have side effects. To reduce the likelihood of side effects, it is important that you stick to the recommended dosage. Exceeding the maximum dosage can increase the chance of side effects occurring. If you miss a dose, and you are using these medications for insomnia, you should skip that dose for then and take your next dose the following night.

Usually, the side effects that can be experienced when taking the recommended dose of sleeping pills are mild. Some of the typical side effects that may occur are:

  • Dizziness - because this medication affects our central nervous system, it also affects our motor skills, which can result in some people feeling dizzy or unstable on their feet. It is not recommended that you perform any potentially dangerous activities that require fine motor skills after taking sleeping tablets. Therefore, driving a car, or operating heavy machinery is prohibited.
  • Headaches - a common side effect of any medication, headaches can also occur when taking sleeping tablets. These headaches should go away by themselves not long after taking this medication. If you find that your headache does not go, it is recommended that you take over-the-counter pain medication, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, to cope with the pain until it subsides.

Why Sleeping Tablets are Safe to Use

Sleeping tablets are safe to use for many people. These medications have been tested thousands of times to ensure that they are not only effective, but also safe for human consumption. Firstly, the original branded medications were put through many scientific trials before they were allowed to be put to market. These medications were in use for decades when they were only available as prescription-only branded medication, due to their effectiveness.

Following the patent expiring on these medications, the active ingredients used for these sleeping tablets were able to be used by other pharmaceutical manufacturers, as generic medications. Generic medications are equally as safe as branded medications, however. All pharmaceutical manufacturers who develop generic medications must have certified manufacturing facilities, which match a worldwide regulatory standard.

Furthermore, the medications themselves are approved by the FDA for use as a generic medication, as part of their FDA Generic Drugs Program. This is where they ensure the medications meet their standards by checking that they are effective for the same conditions. They ensure that they contain the same active ingredient, are available in the same dosages, have similar labels and are made under strict conditions.

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