Side Effects of Sleeping Pills

Sleeping pills have side effects like most medications. You won’t know, though, whether you will experience side effects with a particular sleeping pill until you try it.

Your doctor may be able to alert you to the possibility of side effects if you have asthma or other health conditions. Sleeping pills make you breathe more slowly and less deeply. That can be dangerous for people with uncontrolled lung problems such as asthma or COPD.

Common side effects of prescription sleeping pills such as Lunesta, Sonata, Ambien, Rozerem, and Halcion may include:

Burning or tingling in the hands, arms, feet, or legs
Changes in appetite
Constipation
Diarrhea
Difficulty keeping balance
Dizziness
Drowsiness
Dry mouth or throat
Gas
Headache
Heartburn
Stomach pain or tenderness
Uncontrollable shaking of a part of the body
Unusual dreams
Weakness

The FDA requires manufacturers of Ambien and Zolpimist to offer lower doses for women. Women clear the drugs from their systems more slowly than men and the agency says blood levels of the drugs could still be high enough the following morning to affect activities that require alertness, such as driving. The FDA says doctors should offer the lower dose to men too.

It’s important to be aware of possible sleeping pill side effects so you can stop the drug and call your doctor immediately to avoid a more serious health problem.

Are There More Complex Sleeping Pill Side Effects?

Some sleeping pills have potentially harmful side effects, including parasomnias. Parasomnias are behaviors and actions over which you have no control, like sleepwalking. During a parasomnia, you are asleep and unaware of what is happening.

Parasomnias with sleeping pills are complex sleep behaviors and may include sleep eating, making phone calls, or having sex while in a sleep state. Sleep driving, which is driving while not fully awake, is another serious sleeping pill side effect. Though rare, parasomnias are difficult to detect once the medication takes effect.

Product labels for sedative-hypnotic medicines include language about the potential risks of taking a sleeping pill. Because complex sleep behaviors are more likely to occur if you increase the dosage of a sleeping pill, take only what your doctor prescribes — no more.

Allergic to Sleeping Pills

Some people may have an allergic reaction when taking a sleeping pill and should avoid them. It’s important to talk to your doctor at the first sign of these serious side effects, including:

Blurred vision or any other problems with your sight
Chest pain
Difficulty breathing or swallowing
Feeling that the throat is closing
Hives
Hoarseness
Itching
Nausea
Pounding heartbeat
Rash
Shortness of breath
Swelling of the eyes, face, lips, tongue, or throat
Vomiting

In addition, a serious — even deadly — side effect of any medicine someone is allergic to is anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is an acute allergic reaction. Another possible effect is angioedema, which is severe facial swelling. Again, discuss these possibilities with your doctor if you are at risk of allergic reactions.