Sleeping pills - the pros and cons

In today’s society, lack of sleep is an increasing problem. Whether it’s noisy neighbours, street traffic, menopausal night sweats or the stresses of day to day life, the prospect of a decent night’s sleep can seem remote. And over the last year, the impact of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic has introduced millions more to the of woes of struggling to return to slumber in the early hours of the morning.

Eventually, many resort to using sleeping pills in the hopes of a proper night’s rest. But do they really help? Sleeping pills have their pros, but they’re certainly not without their cons.

The pros of using sleeping pills

May break the insomnia cycle

If you're particularly stressed or anxious on a regular basis, you may find this affects your ability to sleep. This in turn leads to more anxiety over whether you'll manage to sleep at night, which only serves to compound the problem. Sleeping pills, whether they're over the counter or prescribed by a pharmacist, can help to break this cycle.

Provide reassurance

There are countless natural methods for aiding sleep such as having a bath before bed, sprinkling lavender drops onto your pillow, using ear plugs or black out blinds. But if you're suffering chronic sleep problems, such methods can sometimes be ineffective. However, a sleeping pill will virtually always do the trick. And with this knowledge, over time, you may find they you sleep as long as you know you have sleeping pills available, should the need arise.

A quick fix

Taking a sleeping pill can prove beneficial if you're suffering from short term sleep problems. Maybe you have a particularly stressful situation coming up, such as an important meeting or exam where lack of sleep could prove detrimental to the outcome. In such cases, a low dose sleeping pill could help. Alternatively, if you're suffering short term sleep problems you may find that taking a sleeping pill for one or two nights is all you need to help get back into a sleep routine.

The Cons of using sleeping pills


Unfortunately, sleeping pills come with several drawbacks. Although they may provide much needed sleep for insomniacs, they're often highly addictive and sufferers can easily become dependent on them. It can be incredibly difficult to stop taking them, especially if someone believes they won’t be able to sleep without taking a pill. Because of this, they're usually prescribed as a short term solution.

After effects

In many instances, sleeping pills can work a little too well. An artificial sleep may leave you too sedated to wake up during the event of danger. And the next morning the effects can linger, leaving feelings of drowsiness and inability to focus or concentrate properly. They may also make it unsafe to drive or operate machinery. This feeling gradually wears off during the day but it can be difficult to function normally throughout the morning.

Doesn't address the cause

Insomnia isn't a disease but is a symptom of an underlying cause. Resorting to using sleeping pills isn't addressing the source of the problem. Whatever the reason for your disrupted sleep patterns, the problem will still be present once you stop taking sleeping pills. Working on addressing the underlying cause of sleeplessness, along with taking the occasional sleeping pill, can be more beneficial in the long term.

An unnatural sleep

While popping a sleeping pill for a few hours shut-eye may seem like a good solution, they're artificially sedating and you won't reap the benefits of a natural sleep. For example, a sleeping pill reduces that chances of your body achieving the natural sleep cycles necessary for restorative sleep.

Medication interaction

Great care must be taken when considering sleeping pills, especially if you're already taking medications. Certain prescribed or over the counter non-prescription sleeping pills can interact with other medications. It's therefore vital to disclose to the pharmacist the medication you're already taking so they can properly advise you on the type of sleeping pill you could take.

Sleeping pills can seem like the magic pill for providing a much needed few hours of sleep when all else has failed. However, they have their drawbacks and can be highly addictive. As such, they should generally only be used as a short term or temporary solution for sleeplessness. It's far better if you can address the root causes of sleep disturbances in order to find a long term solution.

If you would like support for your sleep, please contact me at for an informal chat about how nutritional therapy and health coaching can help you.

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