Sleep Medications by Prescription

In the past, the most commonly prescribed medications for sleeping problems included two classes of sedative-hypnotic drugs: the benzodiazepines and the "non-benzodiazepine, benzodiazepine receptor agonists."

In addition to these categories, a new medication (Ramelteon, under the brand name Rozerem) became more widely available in 2006 that aids sleep with a unique mechanism of action.

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Benzodiazepine Sleep Aids

Although all of the benzodiazepines are used for the treatment of insomnia, the first 5 in the list are used most commonly for sleep disorders.

  • Dalmane (Flurazepam)
  • Doral (Quazepam)
  • Halcion (Triazolam)
  • ProSom (Estazolam)
  • Restoril (Temazepam)
  • Klonopin (Clonazepam)
  • Ativan (Lorazepam)
  • Xanax (Alprazolam)

The benzodiazepines have been the most commonly used medications in the treatment of insomnia and are certainly safer than some of the older sleeping medications such as the barbiturates (Amytal, Nembutoal, Seconal). However, there have been concerns regarding inappropriate use and abuse of these medications.

These medications are generally recommended only to be used on a short term basis since physical tolerance and dependence can develop. In addition, these medications can often produce a "hangover" effect the following day.

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