Many people who have a difficult time falling asleep at night and some people might consider the possibility of sleeping pills. But is it safe?
Sleeping pills have a notorious reputation for being highly addictive and easy to overdose. But the truth is if the doctor’s recommendations are followed, sleeping pills are perfectly safe in moderation.
Like with every other medication, sleeping pills have their adverse effects too and these can be fatal. People have in the past used these pills to take their lives by overdosing. However, this is not to say that all deaths caused by sleeping pills are intentional some are accidental.
This raises the question exactly how many sleeping pills will it take to cause death?
To get the answer, it is important to understand which pills can cause death, how these pills work and how many pills it takes to overdose.
- 1 How does sleeping pills work?
- 2 What are the risks of taking sleeping pills?
- 3 How many sleeping pills will cause an overdose?
- 4 How many sleeping pills does it take to cause death?
- 5 Is it okay to take sleeping pills every night?
- 6 Final Thoughts
How does sleeping pills work?
The sleeping pill is commonly known as a”hypnotics,” but it is actually called a “sedative-hypnotics”. Sedation at low doses creates a hypnotic effect at moderate doses.
The sleeping pills —or sedative hypnotics— are divided into three main categories; barbiturates, benzodiazepines, and nonbenzodiazepines.
They can also be divided according to short, medium and long-term effects.
The First Generation Of Sedative-Hypnotic Barbiturates
Consisting mainly of barbiturate, phenobarbital, and pentobarbital, they reduce the excitatory effect of glutamate and block the conduction of excitement into the cerebral cortex, which inhibits “excitement” to spread to other places in the body. The effect of sedation and hypnosis is therefore achieved and sleep is induced.
This types of drugs were most commonly used in the mid-twentieth century. But since this kind of drugs can have serious side effects, such as kidney failure and dependence, they were gradually eliminated.
The Second Generation Of Sedative-Hypnotic Drugs
The second generation of sedative and hypnotic drugs are benzodiazepines. The main drugs were diazepam, lorazepam, alprazolam, and midazolam.
The effect of benzene two azoto drugs through the benzene two acceptor receptor makes the binding ability of the adjacent GABA receptor to GABA enhanced, the opening frequency of the chloride channel increases, the flow cell membrane in the chloride channel is then hyperpolarized.
Benzodiazepines have been used in practice since the 1960’s, and compared to the first generation of barbiturates it is much safer and has a significantly lower risk of side effects.
The Third Generation Of Non-benzodiazepines “z-drugs”
Z-drugs are nonbenzodiazepines. The main representatives of the drug are zaleplon and zolpidem, to name a few.
These drugs have a pharmacological action is similar to that of benzodiazepines, which acts on GABA receptor, but is more selective and can play a role in a specific subtype receptor. That is why it has a better effect and less adverse reactions, and have become more popular lately.
What are the risks of taking sleeping pills?
Sleeping pills should be used in a minimal amount, during a short period of time.
For people that need sleep aid for a prolonged period of time, it is recommended that the medication isn’t used every night. Because an overuse of medical sleep inducers is known to cause a dependence, addiction and more serious health problems down the line. If a person uses sleeping pills for a long period of time he or she may suffer symptoms of withdrawal, such as anxiety, depression, insomnia, nightmares, and restlessness.
A high dose of sleeping pills can also lead to an overdose, and in some cases even death.
How many sleeping pills will cause an overdose?
There is no set amount to determine how many sleeping pills that will cause a person to overdose. The factors to consider when trying to estimate how many sleeping pills that will cause death are:
Different types of sleeping pills
There are different kinds of medication in the “sleeping pill” category, and they all have individual properties and different ways of affecting the body.
The drugs that depress the central nervous system are the most dangerous and easy to overdose, especially in combination with alcohol and other narcotic drugs.
People are different
What is considered a low dose for one person, might be a high dose for someone else; That is why it is recommended for people with insomnia to start off with a small dose, which can be increased if sleep is not induced with the lower dose.
Tolerance level varies greatly from one person to another, and some people might need as much as twice or three times the medication as the initial dose.
Some of the things that affect a persons tolerance to sleeping pills are:
- Body size, height, and weight
- Previous use of sleeping pills
- Previous or ongoing use of alcohol and narcotics
- Previous or ongoing use of other medical drugs
- Medical condition and physical health
How many sleeping pills does it take to cause death?
Well, now that we understand more about sleeping pills, we can with certainty deduce that there is no specific number of sleeping pills that can cause death.
Any number of pills above the recommended can have the potential of causing serious adverse effects that can cause mortality. Sometimes, even ingesting the prescribed amounts can be fatal especially when mixed with other substances and drugs such as alcohol.
Therefore, taking sleeping pills for reasons other than the management of sleep disorders is not recommended.
Is it okay to take sleeping pills every night?
That said, one might wonder if there are any potential side effects to taking sleeping pills daily. Well, sleeping pills should only serve as a short-term solution.
As stated, continuous usage of these pills for prolonged periods of time induces tolerance, meaning you daily doses won’t do the trick after some time.
In case your symptoms last longer than you anticipate, it is important that you consider other routes like exercise, dietary changes or stress relieving exercises or better yet consult your doctor.
Since sleeping pills come with such severe risks and side effects, it is always best to use caution and follow the doctor’s recommendation.
It is important that you read the label to your pills carefully, so you can fully understand the recommended doses.
Before you get pills from a doctor it is important that you inform them of any relevant preexisting conditions that you could be suffering from. These help them calculate the appropriate doses for you. Do not combine your medications with other substances unless advised.
Finally, if you are struggling with sleep, it is better to seek natural ways of dealing with it before you can resort to sleeping pills.
In any case, you are considering ingesting sleeping pills for purposes other than sleep disorder management, for instance, ending your life, please consider seeking counseling.
You know what they say, the most selfless thing a person with suicidal tendencies can do is to not end their lives.