Sleep Disorder Medication

Sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, insomnia, narcolepsy and restless leg syndrome have a variety of different treatment options. An important part of eliminating sleep disorder is to make healthy lifestyle changes, such as getting enough exercise, eating a healthy diet and participating in relaxing activities like yoga or meditation. However, some patients feel that they need the assistance of a medication to help them control their sleep cycle and feel normal and alert during the day. The medication will depend on the kind of disorder. There are over-the-counter sleep aids, but a doctor can prescribe psychiatric medication in more serious cases.

Some different options for sleep disorder medication include:

  • Anti-Parkinsonian drugs (dopamine antagonists)
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Non-benzodiazepine hypnotics
  • Melatonin receptor stimulators
  • Opiates
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Antinarcoleptics

What are the Risk Factors and Side Effects?

All psychiatric medications can have side effects. Side effects usually include nausea and dizziness. It’s important not to become dependent on sleep medication, because the ultimate goal should be to eliminate a sleep disorder through lifestyle changes and therapy. It’s important to be careful with medication, and to take it only when you are able to get enough sleep. Otherwise, you will be drowsy and fatigued under the influence of the drugs, causing danger when operating a vehicle, for example. Psychiatric medications are not usually intended for long-term usage, but instead as a way of managing and coping with symptoms while in therapy. A dependence on the medication will make the disorder harder to actually eliminate.

How to Begin Medication

To be prescribed a sleep disorder medication, you will need to be seen by a doctor. The best way for your doctor to figure out the problem and find a solution is to do a sleep study. This could require you to stay overnight at a sleep clinic or sleep center for observation. After all, if you have something like sleep apnea, you wouldn’t know for sure unless somebody else noticed the symptoms while you are asleep. With the combination of a sleep study and therapy, you can decide which option is best. It’s important to make sure you implement healthy lifestyle changes, and other small changes like avoiding television or a computer before bed. Make sure you take the medicine as directed, and do not operate a vehicle or mix alcohol with your medication.

What Should You Do?

Depending on the sleeping disorder that you have, medication and treatment options will be different. Often, eating healthily, getting exercise, partaking in yoga or meditation, taking warm baths, reading a book before bed, keeping a cool, dark bedroom at sleep time and avoiding caffeine after a certain time can help greatly. You should discuss your habits with your doctor, and try techniques he or she advises. If you decide medication is the best option, your doctor can prescribe it for you. Just be sure to use it properly and continue a healthy lifestyle.

View Resources

  • WebMD – Information about different sleep medications.
  • E-Medicine – Description of various sleep disorder prescriptions including dosage and warnings.
  • HelpGuide.org – Information about various sleep disorders, treatment and medication.

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