Go to Sleep: Which Pill Is Right for You
Earlier this year, the FDA issued a wake-up call to manufacturers of the popular sleep aid Lunesta: It required that the recommended starting dose be cut in half, from 2mg to 1mg, in light of data showing that people who took it at night experienced "severe next-morning psychomotor and memory impairment" and might not be alert enough to drive safely. The mandate came more than one year after an FDA requirement that manufacturers of zolpidem-containing sleep aids, like Ambien, reduce bedtime doses due to similar problems. Still, a whopping 9 million Americans — or 4 percent of the adult population — pop sleeping pills from time to time, according to a 2013 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study, with many more using natural remedies, or suffering silently through nights of insomnia. Here’s a look at what else we’re taking:
Generic name: zolpidem
How it works: As a sedative-hypnotic class of drug, it helps the brain produce calming feelings.
Pros: Works quickly (users fall asleep within 15 to 30 minutes). Plus, the extended-release version promotes longer sleep.
Cons: Can be addictive, loses its effectiveness over time, and can cause dangerous behaviors such as sleep eating syndrome.
Generic name: Ramelteon
How it works: Targets the sleep-wake cycle, similar to the natural remedy of melatonin.
Pros: No evidence of abuse.
Cons: Can cause sleepwalking and can’t be used with the anti-depressant fluvoxamine.