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Sleep science

How do sleeping pills actually work?

Sleeping pills usually work by either initiating sleep or helping maintain your sleep.

The problem is that you’re putting something artificial into your body to help you sleep and often that comes with lots of different issues.

They often come with side effects so you can find you have a bit of a hangover feeling and lots of other side effects. They can even stop working in the middle of the night so you have to take more medication.

After a while sleeping pills stop working for you even if they were working well for you to start with. 

Sleeping pills can interrupt your sleep and change the architecture of your sleep. They can change the stages of sleep you go through and the percentages of sleep that you have.

There’s no long-term evidence that sleeping pills can fix a chronic sleep problem but they can be helpful in acute situations. 

In the UK, medical professionals should only prescribe sleeping medication for three weeks or less for an acute condition.