Prescription medications, such as Lunesta or Ambien, that promote sleep are called hypnotics. These are some of the most effective sleep aids available. Studies have examined data on the effectiveness of hypnotics and have concluded that they are effective and reliable for shortening the time it takes to fall asleep, increasing total sleep time, decreasing the number of awakenings, and improving sleep quality. This conclusion is based on studies of short-term use of hypnotics at appropriate doses in comparison with a placebo or sugar pill. Some studies demonstrate little decrease in the effectiveness of hypnotics over the course of months to years.
Using Sleep Aids
Individuals who take sleep aids need to also focus on improving their sleep practices. (See sleeping tips; insomnia clinic). The sedating effects of hypnotics may lead some individuals to fall when going to the bathroom or walking out of bed. The sleep aids may have to be tapered slowly over time, before interruption of the treatment. Patients should work closely with their doctors to avoid common side effects and identify the adequate dose, as this may vary from one individual to another.