Fall Asleep and Stay Asleep
Insomnia is a sleep disorder in which people have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, typically resulting in symptoms such as daytime sleepiness, irritability, and depression — all of which can significantly impact a person’s quality of life. Insomnia may be a result of certain mental disorders, substances, life events, and/or physical conditions. Thankfully, recovery from insomnia is possible. At Family Care Center in Colorado Springs, our team of certified psychologists is here to provide patients with FDA-approved prescription sleep medications. We usually recommend that sleep medications are used as an adjunct to our counseling services, to provide an integrative path to recovery.
Common Types of Sleep Medications
- Benzodiazepines (alprazolam, diazepam, temazepam, triazolam)
- Nonbenzodiazepines (zolpidem, zaleplon, Imovane, eszopiclone)
- Antidepressants (amitriptyline, mirtazapine, trazodone)
- Over-the-counter sleep aids (antihistamines, melatonin, herbal formulations)
Antidepressant Use in the United States
It is believed that 10% to 15% of the adult population in the United States suffers from chronic insomnia, with an additional 25% to 35% having transient or occasional insomnia. The people most likely to experience insomnia are older adults, females, and those with mental conditions. Insomnia can have huge impacts on a person’s life, such as decreasing their work performance, increasing their risk of developing serious medical conditions such as respiratory or heart problems, and even leading to substance abuse.
The first-line treatment for insomnia is lifestyle changes, such as increased exercise, better time management, stress reduction techniques, and less daytime naps. If these changes are not enough to eliminate insomnia, then prescription or over-the-counter sleeping medications, also known as “sedatives” or “hypnotics,” may be recommended.
Who Could Benefit from Antidepressants?
The epidemiology of insomnia is complex, as it often involves several different factors. Some of the most common causes of insomnia are:
Sleep breathing disorders such as sleep apnea or upper airway resistance syndrome
Use of psychoactive drugs such as stimulants, certain herbs, caffeine, nicotine, or excessive alcohol
Mental disorders, including but not limited to bipolar disorder, clinical depression, generalized anxiety disorder, PTSD, schizophrenia, OCD, and ADHD
Nightmares, often associated with post-traumatic stress
Significant life events, such as financial stress, the birth of a child, or grief
Chronic physical pain
Poor sleep hygiene (e.g. eating, sleeping, or drinking too close to bedtime)
Working nontraditional hours
Hormone shifts such as menstruation and menopause
Traumatic brain injury
Genetic susceptibility (heritability estimates of insomnia vary between 38% in males to 59% in females)
Major depressive disorder (MDD)
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
Social anxiety disorder (SAD)
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Binge eating disorder (BED)
Certain pain disorders
Commonly Prescribed Antidepressants
Antidepressants work by targeting chemicals in the brain that regulate emotions and thought patterns. Often, individuals with mental illnesses have dysregulated levels of chemicals in their brain that control emotions and thought patterns. Antidepressants work by targeting these chemicals, thereby reducing their symptoms. With so many types of antidepressants on the market today, choosing which prescription is right for you may seem overwhelming. Our team of friendly, highly-qualified psychiatrists, nurse practitioners and physicians assistants are here to help. At your appointment, they will work with you and your talk therapist to discuss your history, including prior medications, past traumas, and family background.
Below, we have listed the chemical and brand names of some of the most commonly prescribed antidepressants in America today. If you’re interested in trying one of these medications, be sure to discuss it with your doctor:
Benzodiazepines: Sometimes referred to as “benzos,” benzodiazepines are some of the most prescribed sleeping medications. They work by enhancing the effect of the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), producing sedative, hypnotic (sleep-inducing), anxiolytic (anti-anxiety), anticonvulsant, and muscle relaxing properties. These properties make benzodiazepine an effective treatment for many different conditions, including insomnia, anxiety, seizures, muscle spasms, and more. Benzodiazepines may be either short-, intermediary-, or long-acting, with short- and intermediary-acting benzodiazepines being the preferred treatments for insomnia, and long-acting benzodiazepine being the preferred treatment for anxiety.
While benzodiazepines are generally considered safe for short-term use, they are not considered a long-term solution, any may even compound insomnia issues once discontinued due to physical dependence, decreasing effectiveness, and withdrawal.
Benzodiazepines can be habit-forming and are some of the most commonly abused medications in the United States. It is important to always be honest with your doctor about any history of substance abuse, as they will be able to prescribe you a non-habit forming sleeping medication.
Nonbenzodiazepines: This class of medication includes any psychoactive drugs that are similar to benzodiazepines in effect (i.e. anxiolytic and hypnotic) yet have a different chemical structure. Colloquially referred to as Z-drugs (since many of them begin with the letter “z”) these medications are used almost exclusively in the treatment of sleep problems.
Nonbenzodiazepines are a relatively new type of medication and research is ongoing and sometimes conflicting in terms of their long-term effectiveness and abuse potential. While these drugs are generally considered much less habit-forming than benzodiazepines, they still have the potential to cause dependence, as well as amnesia, increased risk of depression, and on rare occasions sleep walking.
Antidepressants: Some antidepressants have sedating effects, and may be prescribed for the treatment of insomnia. However, most antidepressants have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for this use, so they are considered an off-label treatment. Antidepressants are especially useful for people with a history of substance abuse, as they cannot be misused. In addition, they can improve depression and insomnia at the same time, making them an ideal solution for people struggling with both conditions. They are also relatively inexpensive, although getting insurance coverage can be tricky due to their off-label status.
Over-the-Counter Sleep Aids: Oftentimes, your doctor will recommend over-the-counter sleep aids, commonly referred to as “sleeping pills” as a temporary treatment for insomnia before they opt for prescription medication. Over-the-counter sleep aids can be very effective for the occasional bout of sleeplessness, however they are not a long-term solution as tolerance can develop quickly, meaning the longer you take them, the more you will need to obtain the same effectiveness. Some over-the-counter sleep aids may also leave you feeling groggy and unwell the next day, also known as the “hangover effect.” Before trying any over-the-counter sleep aids, it is important to consult with your doctor if you are on other medication, as interactions may occur.
Not all sleeping pills are created equal, and some have a higher risk of tolerance/other side effects than others. Some of the most common types of sleeping pills include:
Antihistamines: While antihistamines are most commonly used for the treatment of allergies, many can also help with sleeplessness as well. Antihistamines are inexpensive, over-the-counter drugs that oppose the neurotransmitter histamine in the body, which regulates the sleep-wake cycle.
- Benadryl (diphenhydramine)
- Unisom (doxylamine succinate)
- Imovane (zopiclone)
- Lunesta (eszopiclone)
Melatonin: You may have heard of this all-natural sleep aid, as it is rapidly growing in popularity across the United States. It is a great first-line option for people suffering from insomnia since it is over-the-counter, relatively inexpensive, non-habit forming, and has little to no side effects. Melatonin, also known as the “sleep hormone” is made naturally by your body to help you relax and fall asleep at night.
While, unlike many prescription medications, melatonin won’t knock you out, it can help calm you into sleep before bed. Researchers believe that many people struggling with insomnia may have a natural or substance-induced melatonin deficiency, so taking melatonin supplements may help relieve their sleeplessness. Melatonin can often be found in your pharmacy’s vitamins aisle.
Herbal Formulations: People have been turning to herbs to help them fall asleep for millenia. While these natural remedies may be worth a try if you’re hesitant to go on prescription medication, it is important that you always first consult your doctor. Unlike other hypnotics, the FDA does not regulate dietary supplements, meaning that manufacturers do not have to show that their products are effective or even safe before selling them on the market.
Types of Herbal Formulations:
Say Goodbye to Sleeplessness
At Family Care Center, we know that insomnia can wreak havoc on every aspect of your life. Stop suffering in silence and start healing by scheduling an appointment at Family Care Center in Colorado Springs today. Simply fill out the form at the bottom of this page and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.