An online doctor can prescribe sleeping medications if it is necessary for your medical condition. An online doctor visit can be carried out from the convenience of any location. A doctor online will generally need to be informed of any medications you are currently taking to ensure treatment is safe and there are no contraindications. Medications that may interact with sleeping pills are outlined in this article as well as pre-existing health conditions that can make the use of these medications unsafe.
What Treatment will a Doctor Online Recommend?
The non-benzodiazepine class of medications are usually the best treatment option for insomnia. In clinical research, these medications have been shown to be as effective as benzodiazepines with excellent safety profiles. These medications include the following:
|Medication||Brand name||Half-life||Usual adult dosage|
|Zolpidem||Ambien||2.5 hours||10mg at bedtime (some patients may respond well to a lower dose)|
|Zopiclone||Zimovane||5 hours||Take a 7.5mg tablet at bedtime|
|Eszopiclone||Lunesta||6 hours||The starting dose is 1mg which may be increased to 2mg or 3mg if necessary|
Compared with the older classes of sleep aids, these medications have a relatively brief half-life. This means the medication is absorbed and rapidly eliminated from the body. Because the medication does not stay in the system for long, non-benzodiazepines typically help you sleep throughout the night, without causing unwanted residual effects the following day such as drowsiness.
These sleep-inducing medications are also known to cause little or no interference with sleep architecture. This refers to the four stages of sleep, including stage 3 which consists of slow wave sleep (SWS), also known as deep sleep. These medications are also associated with a low risk of rebound insomnia or withdrawal symptoms upon discontinuation of treatment.
Before the non-benzodiazepines were developed, the benzodiazepine class were the first-line treatments for insomnia. These medications include alprazolam, lorazepam, clonazepam and diazepam. Although these medications primarily treat anxiety, they can also be used in the treatment of insomnia.
How Medications Counteract Sleeplessness
Non-benzodiazepines work by selectively acting on specific GABA receptors in the central nervous system. These medications subsequently enhance the production of a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA).
Insomnia is believed to be the result of inadequate levels of GABA in the brain. When there are insufficient levels GABA, a person will usually feel anxious, restless and nervous, ultimately leading to sleeplessness.
By increasing GABA levels, these medications reduce the activity of overexcited nerve cells, resulting in a tranquil and sleep-inducing effect. This makes these medications effective in the treatment of the following conditions.
- Sleep onset insomnia
- Sleep maintenance insomnia
- Early morning awakening insomnia
Sleep onset insomnia involves trouble falling asleep at the beginning of the night and can be described as a delay in sleep that lasts 20-30 minutes or longer. This type of insomnia typically reduces the likelihood of a good night’s sleep and often results in daytime drawbacks like fatigue, reduced alertness and impaired cognition.
Sleep maintenance insomnia is characterised by frequent nighttime awakenings with difficulty resuming sleep. The fragmented sleep patterns associated with this condition usually cause a patient to experience sleepiness during the day. In fact, people with sleep maintenance insomnia are about twice as likely to experience excessive daytime sleepiness compared with people who stay asleep throughout the night.
Early morning awakening insomnia happens when a person wakes up too early and has difficulty returning to sleep. Some sleep specialists consider this to be a part of sleep maintenance insomnia while others view it as a separate condition.
A diagnosis of early morning awakening insomnia is usually made if a person wakes up at least 30 minutes earlier than planned, at least three days a week. An online doctor will usually recommend a non-benzodiazepine to help relieve sleep maintenance, onset or early awakening insomnia.
Are Sleeping Pills Safe for Everyone?
Although medications for insomnia are safe for most people, there are certain groups of patients that should practise extra caution or avoid the use of these treatments. Elderly patients are more likely to be sensitive to the effects of both benzodiazepine and non-benzodiazepine treatments.
A lower dose is therefore usually advised for elderly patients, especially when starting treatment. The following people who obtain an online doctor prescription for sleeping tablets are also advised to take extra caution and adhere to a lower dosage schedule:
- If you have any problems with breathing
- If you have reduced liver or kidney function
- If you have taken a similar medication recently
There is no clinical evidence to suggest this medication is safe to use during pregnancy. For this reason, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should avoid these medications. Patients with the following underlying health conditions are also advised to avoid these medications:
- Myasthenia gravis which is characterised by muscle weakness
- Sleep apnoea which involves difficulty breathing during sleep
- Severe problems with liver function
Certain medications can interact with sleeping pills and alter the mechanism of action or raise the risk of side effects. Antibiotics like erythromycin and anti-fungal treatments like itraconazole can increase side effects. The following medications may increase the sedating effects of sleeping medications so they should be used with caution:
- Medications that are used in the treatment of depression
- Strong opioid pain relievers like oxycodone and pethidine
- Sedating antihistamines like promethazine and chlorpheniramine
- Antipsychotics which are treatments for mental conditions
- Other medications that are used to treat anxiety or insomnia
Are Side Effects Easy to Cope With?
Along with their therapeutic effects, sleeping pills may cause side effects although not every person experiences side effects. In fact, side effects that are considered common only affect up to 1 in 10 people and these include:
- A bitter taste or dry mouth – if this side effect happens, try taking small sips of water and use a non-alcohol based mouthwash before going to bed.
- Headache – it is safe to take everyday painkillers like paracetamol to treat a headache. Also, drinking plenty of liquids and ensuring you get sufficient rest can help prevent a headache.
- Nausea – oftentimes, patients who experience nausea find this side effect is less likely to happen if they take sleeping medication with food.
If you ask a doctor about buying sleeping pills online for advice, you will usually be advised to closely adhere to usage and dosage instructions for safe treatment. If you know that you are going to take sleeping medication, the use of alcohol should always be avoided. Your online pharmacy will offer more helpful information to enable optimum usage benefits.