Choosing safe sleeping pills depends on how severe a person's insomnia is, and which other medications he is taking. If insomnia occurs only on occasion, over-the-counter sleeping pills are usually safe. The active ingredients in these tablets include diphenhydramine and acetaminophen. The combination of these two ingredients quickly induce sleep, but can cause daytime drowsiness.
Sometimes, insomnia can be disruptive to a person's daily routine. He might experience profound daytime sleepiness that prevents him from doing his job or impedes his driving skills. In these cases, a physician needs to be notified so that an effective treatment plan, which might include safe sleeping pills, can be employed. Before the physician prescribes general sleeping pills, he will usually take a detailed medical history and ask the patient if he is taking other medications.
Although medications prescribed by a doctor are generally considered safe sleeping pills, they can cause significant side effects. These can include profound tiredness, dizziness, and dry mouth. In addition, the pills can cause urinary retention, itchy skin, and dry eyes. Also, even safe sleeping pills can cause addiction or dependence, and should only be taken in extreme cases of insomnia, and only under the strict supervision of the physician.
Prescription sleeping pills should not be confused with anti-anxiety medications. These drugs are very effective in treating symptoms of anxiety such as insomnia and anxiousness, but they are not classified as prescription sleeping pills. Some prescription sleeping pills are popular and commonly used, however, taking them for extended periods of time can render them less effective over time, and cause major side effects such as sleepwalking.
Both over-the-counter and prescription sleeping pills have side effects, and simply because sleep preparations can be obtained without a prescription, does not automatically make them safe sleeping pills. In fact, sleeping pills of any type can intensify the effects of certain medications, including some heart medications, anti-anxiety medications, and certain analgesics.
Sleeping pills should never be taken will alcoholic beverages, because even safe sleeping pills, in combination with alcohol, can be dangerous. Sleeping pills not only intensify the effects of alcohol, mixing the two can be deadly. If an person accidentally mixes alcohol and sleeping pills, an emergency medical evaluation and intervention is required because a delay in treatment can prove fatal. A gastric lavage, or "stomach pumping" can be done in the emergency room to remove the mixture from the stomach.