Generic Name Brand Name eszopiclone Lunesta ramelteon Rozerem zaleplon Sonata zolpidem Ambien
Benzodiazepines may also be used to provide short-term relief from insomnia.
These medicines are called sedative-hypnotics. They help your brain relax so that you can fall asleep.
Some people may need medicine for a while to help them fall asleep. Doctors often prescribe medicine for a short time if other treatment isn't working. These medicines work best as a short-term treatment combined with lifestyle and behavior changes.
These medicines are effective at treating insomnia. They are the first-choice medicines for short-term insomnia.1
These sleep medicines may not have as many withdrawal and tolerance effects as another class of drugs called benzodiazepines that are used to treat sleep problems. But medicine doesn't work as well over time as lifestyle and behavior changes do. Except for ramelteon, sleep medicine can also become habit-forming.
Side effects of sleep medicines may vary depending on which one you take. But side effects may include:
- Daytime drowsiness and dizziness.
- Dry mouth.
- Muscle or joint pain.
- Changes in appetite or in the way food tastes.
- Problems with balance or coordination.
- Confusion and trouble remembering things.
- Physical problems, such as falling, especially in older people.
- An allergic reaction.
- Dependence and withdrawal symptoms. Sleep problems may get worse when you stop taking the medicine.
In rare cases, people taking these medicines have done activities, such as driving and eating, while still asleep.
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)
These medicines may help with sleep problems, but they may not work any better than less expensive nonprescription sleep medicines, such as Nytol or Sominex.
Complete the new medication information form (PDF) to help you understand this medication.
Hirschkowitz M, et al. (2009). Sleep disorders. In BJ Sadock et al., eds. Kaplan and Sadock's Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry, 9th ed., vol 1, pp. 2150–2177. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
By Healthwise Staff Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine Specialist Medical Reviewer Lisa S. Weinstock, MD - Psychiatry Last Revised December 1, 2011