Medical Q&As

Sleeping tablets - dependency?

Can taking sleeping tablets long term do me any harm? I have been taking them for about one month and when I stop I still can't sleep. I am taking a 10mg sleeping tablet at present but the trouble is that I have to take two at a time, as one doesn’t work.

The principal concern with long-term use of sleeping tablets is that the person is running the risk of becoming dependent on the drug. In other words their system becomes so dependent on the drug that they won’t sleep without it. In recent years doctors have become more cautious in their prescription of sleeping tablets and tend to prescribe for short periods of time. If a person takes a sleeping pill on a daily basis for more than four weeks there is a risk of developing a dependency to that drug. However, sleep disturbance can be a very serious problem for some people and can be a cause of a great deal of mental distress. Sleeping tablets are a very effective short-term remedy and can be very helpful to people particularly if they are experiencing sleep disturbance as a result of an acute crisis. Since you already have to increase the dose of your sleeping tablet I would suggest that you return to your GP and discuss this matter further.