Decision Assist

Sleep medications

Introduction

The purpose of this tool is to help you decide whether to take medication to help you sleep. When making a decision like this, you must balance:

This tool is not a substitute for professional medical care and advice. Work with your doctor to help you make this decision. A second opinion from another doctor may be valuable. Medication always has potential side effects, and you should be fully informed about the risks and benefits of this type of medication. There is usually no exact “right” or “wrong” answer.

Your doctor may make certain recommendations to you. However, the final decision about whether to use this medication rests with you.

What is the medication?

Sleeping problems are known as insomnia. Problems can include:

Irregular sleep

There are many ways to help you sleep better. Medication is available, but should be used as a temporary solution or a last resort.

This tool will focus on the newer medicines available, short-acting non-benzodiazepines. These medicines can bring on sleep with fewer side effects than older drugs, such as Halcion and Xanax.

Examples of these drugs include zolpidem (Ambien), zaleplon (Sonata), eszopiclone (Lunesta), and ramelteon (Rozerem).

Antidepressants may also be prescribed to help you sleep.

Key points

How much time this decision tool will take

What this tool will provide


Review Date: 9/12/2010
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

References:
  • Morgenthaler T, Kramer M., et al. Practice parameters for the psychological and behavioral treatment of insomnia: an update. An american academy of sleep medicine report. Sleep. 2006;29(11): 1415-9.
  • Ramakrishnan K, Scheid DC. Treatment options for insomnia. Am Fam Physician. 2007;76(4): 517-26.
  • Wilson, JF. In the clinic. Insomnia. Ann Intern Med. 2008;148(1): ITC13-1-ITC13-16.
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