Are sleeping pills the best way to cure insomnia?

This question was asked in Irvine, California on 01/18/2012.
My physician has suggested that I try sleeping pills. I've heard that sleeping pills have extremely bad side effects and that they may be addicting. Should I try taking such pills at my doctor's recommendation?

Doctors Answers (2)

Richard J. Schumann Jr., MD
Answered on: 1/18/2012

I don't believe they are not the best solution long term.  They may have some short term benefit when used judiciously.  They do have unpleasant side effects in some patients including but not limited to nightmares, excess daytime sedation and cognitive impairment.  They also have the potential for dependence as you stated.  A careful history should be taken about sleep problems before any pills are prescribed or taken for any length of time.

Sleeping pills, or over the counter sleep aids, are not a cure for insomnia. Medications often help relieve the symptoms of insomnia but rarely serve to “cure” insomnia. Some sleep medications, especially those medications which are not designed or studied for insomnia, may even be harmful. The potential for dependency or addiction exists with some sleep aides and should only be prescribed and monitored by a healthcare provider.