Sleep (cont.)

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Sleep aids (prescription and OTC)

Medications can be of value in treating some types of sleep disorders. However, since sedating medications typically have the potential for addiction and abuse, their use must be carefully supervised by a health care practitioner. Among the types of prescription drugs that have been prescribed for specific sleep disorders include:

OTC sleep medications are sometimes used for the short-term treatment of insomnia. These include the sedating antihistamines such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl). However, this is not a recommended use of these or other similar drugs due to their many side effects and the possibility of long-term drowsiness the following day.

Melatonin, a chemical released from the brain which induces sleep, has been tried in supplement form and promoted as a natural sleep remedy for treatment of insomnia. But studies have shown that it has been generally ineffective in treating common types of insomnia, except in specific situations in patients with known low levels of melatonin.

CPAP devices (continuous positive airway pressure; a device worn over the face that holds the airway open by maintaining constant air pressure) or AutoPAP (PAP delivered over a range of pressures) and Dental appliances have been effective in the management of sleep-related breathing disorders, including sleep apnea. CPAP is typically the first line of therapy for most adult patients with obstructive sleep apnea. Surgery can be effective for some patients and may help patients respond to CPAP. Newer, implantable devices that stimulate the muscles of the upper airway during sleep may also be a treatment option for some patients.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/20/2015

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