Are you one to reach for a sleeping aid like Ambien when your sleep woes become too much? It’s not uncommon. Millions of Americans look to prescription sleep aids to get the rest they need, but there’s a dark side to this sleep-in-a-pill approach. So much so, that the FDA has recently mandated stronger warnings about incidents related to popular prescription sleep meds.
Warnings on the box
As of April 2019, the FDA announced that certain prescription insomnia drugs will now require a warning on the box. This is considered the agency’s strongest warning. The language warns of rare but potentially life-threatening occurrences connected with taking certain sleep aids. These include sleep walking, sleep driving, and even using appliances while not fully alert. Imagine the dangers of operating a hot stove or oven while sleeping!
What if I’m taking these drugs now?
SleepScore experts recommend that prescribed sleep medication should only be used for short periods of time, such as 1 or 2 days, and for no longer 2 weeks, and only when really needed, for instance in case of acute insomnia caused by a life event. Note that even for chronic insomnia, the American College of Physicians recommends Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I) over hypnotics.
Finding a pill-free alternative to healthy sleep should always be the first option. This might include behavior or lifestyle changes, finding products that are proven to be effective, or even digital cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT–I) if necessary. It can be a hard-fought battle to get the sleep you need but finding safe and proven ways to sleep through the night is always the healthiest option.
You can read more about the science of sleep and tips for improving your sleep, or check out the SleepScore App to learn about your sleep patterns, get expert advice, and start feeling your best every day.