Why I Stopped Using Sleeping Pills Too Often

I’m one of the millions of people across the country who have used sleeping pills to help me to get to sleep at night. At my worst, I was taking prescription pills. That said, I have since switched to over the counter supplements. Now that I’ve seen some of the most recent research, I’m glad I have.

Using Prescription Sleeping Pills

I used prescription sleeping pills off and on for a while. I found them very helpful and very difficult at the same time. I definitely slept at night, but it was very hard to wake up in the morning. I likely shouldn’t have driven some of the times I did. I didn’t realize how affected I truly was.

A New Sleeping Pills Study

A new study about sleeping pills in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry recently found that about one in every three adults aged 65 to 80 are using these pills at least occasionally. I was certainly one of them. I still do, since the study also included over the counter medications and supplements.

The study showed that when these types of products – prescription or non-prescription sleeping pills – are causing people within my age group to suffer some potentially serious side effects. This includes sleep aids as common as Benadryl or other diphenhydramine containing medications.


That chemical-sounding name refers to an “anticholinergic drug”. This means that it stop acetylcholine (a brain chemical) activity. That brain chemical also plays a role in brain functions like alertness, memory and learning, as well as in muscle activation.

Therefore, when people take these over the counter sleeping pills, constipation, confusion and other side effects can occur. As is nearly always the case, older people are more likely to experience side effects and they’re more likely to experience them more seriously.

Taking Sleeping Pills More Seriously

My attitude about taking prescription sleeping pills was always pretty serious, but I admit I thought of the OTC ones far more casually. Not anymore!

The American Geriatric society has now called these sleeping pills that contain diphenhydramine “generally inappropriate” for seniors. This has made me much more cautious and hesitant to use them. In fact, I have stopped using that ingredient completely in favor of an herbal supplement I like. It contains all natural ingredients and is quite mild and relaxing without a full sedative effect. I know it’s not the same for everyone but for me it’s enough.

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