The Right Medicine for a Good Night’s Sleep

by on October 5th, 2015
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Sleep deprivation has become an epidemic in the U.S. Sleep is often the first thing to go when life gets busy (and whose doesn’t?) and for many people getting and staying asleep is a struggle. If you’ve tried natural methods and you still can’t get a good night’s sleep, you may need an intervention to break the pattern. Here is a look at four medicines that doctors may prescribe for sleep.


Ambien does what it says it will do. You will definitely sleep, and usually right after you take the medicine. It is recommended that you only take Ambien if you have a full eight hours available for sleep, because it is long lasting and you may still be groggy after six or seven hours. Taking Ambien with some chemotherapy drugs and antidepressants can result in nightmares, so if you are taking these medications try something else. Ambien can also be addictive, so just use it for a night or two to get your sleep schedule back on track.


Lunesta is a more recent addition to the sleep medicine pharmacy. It’s shorter acting, so if you only have seven hours to sleep you can take it. It also is reputed to be non-addictive, although as with any drug it is wise to not overuse it. There are potential drug interactions with Lunesta as well, so check with your doctor if you are taking other medications.


Trazodone was originally developed as an antidepressant. Ambien, Lunesta and Lorazepam are all mild depressants, so for someone who is battling depression Trazodone is a good alternative and may work synergistically with antidepressant medication. Trazodone has been linked in some studies to increased formation of hormone sensitive mammary tumors in laboratory animals, so breast cancer survivors should approach with caution. Check with your doctor.

Lorazepam (xanax)

Lorazepam is a sedative/hypnotic that acts quickly, and is often used for insomnia related to anxiety. In low doses it does not have any noticeable side effects, but lorazepam can be very addictive. It is a good choice for the occasional sleeplessness of the mind-spinning variety, not to be taken for more than a few nights in a row.

When your sleep pattern is established, try natural strategies to continue sleeping well.

Develop a routine to soothe yourself into sleep, and stay with it to train your body to go to sleep. Make sure your bedroom is peaceful, dark and quiet, and go to bed at the same time every night. A few minutes of yoga before bed can help you relax for a good night’s sleep.

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