Best Sleeping Pills for Insomnia: 9 FDA approved Medications for Optimum Sleep

Can sleeping pills be used effectively?Almost every individual you come across experiences some form of challenges getting sleep, from time to time, requiring pills to help you sleep resolve this. In some cases, stressful events such as exams, work life, and worries about your home, can lead to the lack of sleep. Even though some sleeping problems can extend past a month, or two, they can resolve on their own. However, if you are experiencing consistent lack of sleep, you might be having a health problem that you need to address as soon as possible before it develops into something worse. For example, any sleeping problem that leads to distress, and occur over a number of nights for three months and above, are worse and needs attention.

Insomnia is a serious sleeping problem experienced by a majority of the people. Research indicates that insomnia affects over 10% of adult Americans. It is associated with a feeling of irritability, sadness, and anxious and can account for people’s anxiety and depression. There are concerns that insomnia is associated with other types of serious health problems such as heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. Moreover, it has a high probability of decreasing your cognitive function, implying low productivity.

What is the solution for insomnia?

Insomnia can be distressful. As noted above, insomnia is a serious problem that requires immediate action. Over the years, sleeping pills have been used as the best option for the management of insomnia. Some of the sleeping pills are available online. However, you cannot just buy any sleeping pill that you come across – you need something that gives you the guarantee of effective management of your sleeping problems. In this article, we focus on the best sleeping pills for insomnia, with much emphasis on some of the most preferred medications that will help you sleep.

9 medications/ pills to help you sleep

You can take a number of medications to fight insomnia and help you sleep. Such medications include:

  1. Benzodiazepines

These types of medications, which may include triazolam (Halcion) and emazepam (Restoril), are the best type of medication that stays longer in the system. As such, they are ideal for treating sleeping problems such as night terrors and sleepwalking. Nevertheless, it is important to take caution with such medication, as they are addictive and may make lead to a feeling of sleepiness the following day.

  1. Antidepressants

You can take antidepressant medication like trazodone (Desyrel) to help you fall asleep. Moreover, such medications are ideal is your lack of sleep is associated with issues such as anxiety and general sleeplessness.

Despite the wide use of antidepressants in the ease of insomnia, the Food and Drug Administration does not recommend them. It is advisable to take these medications in cases where your sleep issues result from anxiety or depression.

  1. Doxepine (Silenor)

This medication is suitable for individuals who have challenges staying asleep. It is effective in that it blocks histamine receptors hence, it is able to maintain sleep. However, you should not take Silenor if you are not in a position to sleep for about 7 to 8 hours.

  1. Eszopiclone (Lunesta)

Lunesta is a great medication for anyone who wants to fall asleep quickly. It can help you sleep for a period of up to 8 hours. To avoid grogginess, it is advisable to take the medication whenever you have the time for a full night’s sleep.

  1. Ramelteon (Rozerem)

Unlike most other sleep medication, Rozerem targets your sleep-wake cycle as opposed to causing some form of depression on the central nervous system. It functions in a way similar to melatonin which is naturally produced in the body. It is ideal for individuals experiencing challenges falling asleep and it is safe for long-term use, as it has no reported cases of dependency.

  1. Suvorexant (Belsomra)

Belsomra is used for the treatment of insomnia. Its efficiency is pegged on the drug’s ability to block the hormone responsible for the promotion of wakefulness. FDA approves the use of Belsomra for the treatment of individuals with insomnia resulting from challenges of staying asleep or total failure to fall asleep.

Most people who take Belsomra have reported a feeling of sleepiness the following day. As such, it is advisable to take the medication when you are not ready to take part in any form of work the following day.

  1. Zaleplon (Sonata)

Sonata is, considerably, one of the newer types of sleeping pills. In comparison to most of the other medications, Sonata takes the shortest time in the body system. In addition, it does not cause a drowsy feeling the following morning. As such, it is ideal for people who wish to get sleep quickly and sleep for less than 7 or 8 hours.

  1. Zolpidem (Intermezzo, Edluar, Ambien)

If you have challenges getting to sleep, you can try any of the Zolpidem medication such as intermezzo, Edluar, or event Ambien. However, a number of people have reported incidences of waking up at night even after taking such medications. In spite of this, there is an extended release version of Zolpidem – the Ambien CR that is ideal in helping you to sleep, as well as stay asleep for long. It has effects of staying the body for long implying that you should not take it when you anticipate being alert the following day. In addition, it is only recommendable to take Ambien CR if you have about 7 hours to sleep.

  1. Over-the-counter (OTC) sleep aids

The majority of the sleep aids available in the market are antihistamines. While they can be used for the treatment of insomnia, they are known for high level of drowsiness in the following day after intake. You do not need any prescription to buy these OTC sleep aids. However, it is advisable to refrain from taking too much sleep aids especially if you are under other medications, which contain antihistamines.

What You Need To Know Before Taking Any Sleeping Medications

As evident above, there are different sleeping medications, and each one of them works differently. For example, some medications help you fall asleep easier, others help you stay asleep for longer hours, and yet some others are good for both.

The table below offers a summarized overview of the medications addressed above in terms of how they can help you with sleep issues, and if or not they are addictive when taken over a long period.

Sleep medication Can lead to dependence/ addictive Helps you fall asleep Can make you stay asleep
Suvorexant (Belsomra) Yes Yes Yes
Zolpidem (Ambien CR) Yes Yes Yes
Zolpidem (Intermezzo, Edluar, Ambien) Yes Yes
Zaleplon (Sonata) Yes Yes
Triazolam Yes Yes
Tamezepam (Restoril) Yes Yes Yes
Ramelteon Yes
Eszopiclone (Lunesta) Yes Yes Yes
Estazolam Yes Yes Yes
Doxepin (Silenor) Yes

The benefits and risks of different prescription sleeping pills are also different. For this reason, therefore, it is advisable to carry out thorough research on the diverse medications that are available and try relating each one of them to your specific sleep problem.

Common side effects of prescription sleep medications

Most of the sleep medications have different side effects. As such, it is advisable to have prior knowledge of the potential side effects of the medication you have about to take. However, these side effects vary based on the prescription and the type of the sleeping pills. The common ones include:

  • Lightheadedness or dizziness that leads to falls
  • Headaches
  • Gastrointestinal issues like nausea and diarrhea
  • Extended drowsiness for medications, which help you stay asleep
  • Allergic reactions
  • Sleep-associated behaviors
  • Performance and memory problems

Safety precautions

First, it is not recommendable to take sleeping pills – nonprescription and prescription – if you are an older adult, breast-feeding, or pregnant. For example, such pills have a high probability of increasing risks of injury and nighttime falls for older individuals. In case you are in this category, lower doses are recommendable.

Secondly, you should not take sleeping pills if you have some health conditions such as seizures, heart rhythm problems, low blood pressure, or kidney disease. Usually, a large number of the prescription pills have a high probability of interacting with the other medications, which you are taking for the other health conditions.

Therefore, if you are taking any sleeping pills, it is advisable to:

  1. Get an appropriate medical evaluation: a thorough examination is necessary before you can start taking different types of sleeping pills. Such evaluation helps to establish the cause of your sleep problems for the appropriate advice.
  2. Understand the medication guide: following the given medication guide for sleeping pills is necessary, as it helps you learn what to expect in terms of the reaction, and potential side effects of the sleeping pills after you have taken them.
  3. Take sleeping pills when you are ready to sleep: sleeping pills can interfere with your mental functionality. As such, it is advisable to take sleeping pills when you are heading to bed, and after you are done with all your activities, as this reduces your risk of dangerous situations.
  4. Be aware of the side effects: it is important to be aware of the potential side effects so that you can watch for them and seek advice in case of any strange feelings or conditions.

Natural sleeping aids to manage Insomnia

Other than use of sleeping pills, one can use a sleeping aid containing naturally occurring ingredients. They include:

  • Valerian root
  • Tryptophan
  • Melatonin
  • Passion flower
  • 5-HTP
  • Chamomile

As discussed in most of my articles, management of insomnia with natural sleeping aids is better, more effective and very healthy. Most of these sleeping aids are extracts from plants or hormones produced in the body for sleep regulation. These sleeping aids can also be toxic if not used as per the prescribed doses.


The root extracts from valerian are a very effective sleeping aid. This perennial flowering plant gives maximum benefits when used consistently for people with chronic insomnia. This period is majorly one month but to get quick relief from insomnia, the valerian can be combined with other natural sleeping aids below to give maximum benefits. Lunar sleeping aid contains a combination of 4 natural sleeping aids for maximum sleep.


This is an amino acid that is very effective in tackling insomnia. It is available in food that are described by most people as sleep inducing. They include turkey, soy, chicken, beans and milk and these foods contain almost all the essential and non-essential amino acids. Thus to treat insomnia with tryptophan, one can take supplements of take more of the foods above.


Melatonin is a widely studied hormone in the treatment of insomnia. It is a hormone produced by the pineal glands in the body but is also found in some plants. Its produced by the body to control sleep wake cycles. Currently there are synthetic melatonin in the market for insomnia treatment.

Passion flower

This is also a long term natural sleeping aid. The extracts from the flowering plant enable the insomniacs to sleep comfortably. As also indicated in all the other natural sleeping aids, there is no dependence on the sleeping aid. This makes the sleeping aid excellent for children and the geriatrics.


5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is associated with a good night sleep. It is an amino acid derivative from tryptophan which is produced in the body in normal circumstances. It has been proven clinically to have no side effects when taken. Therefore 5-HTP is very effective in management of insomnia. It is available in several naturally occurring foods but is available in large quantities and can be extracted from Griffonia tree seeds which grow in west Africa.


Chamomile is the most widely used herb extract as a sleeping aid. It is taken in tea, or pills to cure insomnia. It may also be used as a sachet in the bed to induce a good night sleep. This herb enables one to get sleep in the short term or long term. The plant is available in most of the sleeping aids available in the market.

Natural sleeping aids vs sleeping pills

It is more recommended to use natural sleeping aids especially for the long term as they do not cause dependence as compared to sleeping pills whether OTC (over the Counter) or not. Most of the sleeping pills are however very effective in the short term management of insomnia. In addition, natural sleeping aids do not have serious side effects as compared to OTC/prescription sleeping pills.

Overly, insomnia is a serious sleep problem that needs immediate address. Sleeping pills can help deal with your sleep problems. However, in the case of persistent insomnia, it is advisable to seek medical help, as well as try other approaches to address the issue. For example, according to the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) is an effective and consistent approach to treating insomnia. The sleeping pills are either available as over the counter (OTC) sleeping pills.

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