If you often struggle to get some shut-eye, you're not alone — many Americans suffer from insomnia on a regular basis.
And a significant percentage of them are now routine users of sleeping pills as a result. In fact, at least one in eight adults who have trouble sleeping use sedative medications, according to the CDC. And the number of prescriptions for nonbenzodiazepine sedative hypnotics — a category of sleep drug — increased 30-fold between 1994 and 2007.
But is it safe to be taking these sleeping pills?
To answer the question, it's important to know the differences between the various options. After all, sleep aids include a spectrum of different pharmaceuticals — from over-the-counter solutions like melatonin supplements and Benadryl (diphenhydramine), to anxiety meds like Xanax (alprazolam), to prescription-only drugs specific to sleep, such as Ambien (zolpidem).
Here's what I tell my patients about each option: