Guidelines for Taking Sleep Medications from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine
Follow these guidelines to make sure that you use sleep medications safely and properly:
- Never take a sleeping pill without first getting approval from your doctor.
- Never drink alcohol in an attempt to fall asleep faster. Alcohol will only disrupt your sleep even more. It causes you to wake up more often during the night.
- Make sure your doctor is aware of any other medications that you already take. This includes non-prescription medications such as pain relievers and allergy medicines. Combining medications can be very dangerous.
- Make sure that your doctor is aware of other medical conditions that you have. Some drugs can have serious side effects for people with other medical problems. Examples of these problems include high blood pressure and liver problems.
- Carefully read the package insert that comes with your medication. Pay careful attention to the potential side effects that it describes.
- Follow your doctor’s instructions for how much you should take. Only take it for as many days or weeks as your doctor tells you.
- Contact your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions about taking your medication.
- Never take your medication for any other reason than to help you sleep.
- Take your sleeping pill at the right time of day. Many sleeping pills must be taken just before you go to bed.
- Only take a sleeping pill when you will have enough time to get a full night of sleep (7 to 8 hours). Otherwise you may feel drowsy the next day.
- Find out whether you should take your medication with or without food. Most sleeping pills should be taken on an empty stomach.
- Never drink alcohol near the time when you take a sleeping pill.
- Never drive a motor vehicle after taking a sleeping pill.
- Contact your doctor or pharmacist right away if you have any problems while taking a sleep medication.
Contact your doctor or pharmacist if you have any other questions about taking sleep medications.
Insomnia: Questions to Ask Your Doctor
Reviewed by David A. Kristo, MD
Updated March 14, 2007