At one time physicians passed out sleeping pills and tranquilizers like candy. With new information about the long-term consequences of sleeping pill use, many people are being more cautious about what to take and for how long.
Once your body has learned to depend on pills for sleep, taking pills away usually causes the insomnia to get worse. This is called "rebound insomnia." Because of this phenomena, people often become addicted to sleeping pills. A sleeping pill can be masking the real causes of poor sleep (i.e., the medical, behavioral, or psychological problems). The National Institute of Health recommends that the treatment for insomnia should start with the corrections of poor sleep habits before sleeping medication is used. If the individual does choose to go on sleep medications, he or she should receive the smallest effective dose for the shortest clinically necessary period of time.
Sleeping pills can also affect the day after. People often take sleeping pills thinking that they will feel more refreshed and alert the next day. By contrast, research indicates people who got a night's sleep while on sleeping pills did not perform any better than people who got a poor night's sleep while on a placebo. Many people feel sedated and groggy after a night's sleep on medication.
All sleeping pills have been shown to have side effects. They cause confusion, high blood pressure, anxiety, dizziness and may slow respiration. Sleeping pills can interact with other drugs, and the combination with alcohol can be deadly.