Sufferers of insomnia may be prescribed a wide range of medications. Although generally safe, these medicines are not without their risks. Side effects range from a mild headache to cardiac arrest so they are not to be taken lightly. If you are taking medication or thinking about it, this article can serve as a starting point for discussion between you and your doctor; it is not intended to be medical advice.
Ambien (zolpidem) – If you don’t get enough sleep at night, you may feel sleepy during the day. This can lead to increased risk of injury, especially if you operate heavy machinery. If taken with alcohol, those effects can be magnified. Zolpidem also carries a risk of dependency so it should not be used by people with a history of drug abuse. You can become dependent on zolpidem so if you’ve been taking it on a regular basis, don’t stop taking it abruptly. This drug can be harmful to unborn babies so if you are pregnant or think you might become pregnant be sure to mention it to your doctor.
Lunesta – Side effects can include dizziness, memory loss, drowsiness, and problems with coordination. The memory problems can be avoided or minimized by taking it only when you intend to go to sleep. Rarely, people have suffered from outgoing or aggressive behavior, confusion, agitation, hallucinations, suicidal thoughts, and strange behavior. You should contact your doctor immediately if you are having dangerous thoughts.
Sonata ( Zaleplon) – Headache and nausea may occur but contact your doctor immediately if you have joint pain, loss of coordination, or dizziness. Rare side effects may include irregular pulse, chest pain, mood changes, memory problems, loss of appetite, tingling of hands or feet, blood in the stool, changes in your urine, and eye and ear problems. You should contact your doctor immediately if you have these or any other side effects.
Diphenhydramine (Sominex, Nytol) – Diphenhydramine may cause prolonged sleepiness, dizziness, and dry mouth. It is not recommended for nursing or pregnant women and it may not be safe for people with a history of enlarged prostate, heart problems, or glaucoma.
Temazepam (Restoril) – Temazepam may cause headache, prolonged drowsiness, blurred vision, nausea, diarrhea, and low blood pressure. It should not be taken by pregnant or nursing women, the elderly, or people with a history of depression or lung disease.
Trazodone (Desyrel) – Trazodone may cause diarrhea, vomiting, headache, dizziness, blurred vision or weight fluctuations. Rarely, this drug may cause cardiac complications or seizures so be sure to remind your doctor if you have a history of heart problems or high blood pressure. This drug interacts with Coumadin and many herbal supplements so be sure to let your doctor know if you are taking them.
No matter which drug you end up trying, it is vitally important that you follow your doctor’s orders and report any serious side effects immediately. Sometimes a minor adjustment in the dosage may alleviate your side effects but in other cases you may need to try something entirely different.