The safety of sleeping pills is once again being questioned. Last year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration was prompted to require strong warning labels on sleeping medications such as Ambien, Lunesta, and other "sedative-hypnotic" sleep aids because of an outbreak of cases involving the dangerous drugs. A recently filed report suggests that the adverse side effects of newer sleeping pills may be just as problematic as those of older, sometimes recalled medication.
The World Health Organization received reports of people experiencing amnesia, confusion, agitation, and other bad reactions while taking newer sleep medication. One woman painted her front door while asleep, others set fire to their kitchens while trying to cook, or crashed cars into trees while taking sleeping pills. Some scientists theorize that sleeping pills may act on brain circuits in an uneven manner, leaving the portions that control behaviors like eating and driving active while impairing the centers that manage judgment and control.
Experts all recommend trying non-drug methods of dealing with insomnia before using the potentially dangerous sleeping drugs. These include exercise, stress reduction, and avoiding caffeine. If medication is necessary, experts say that you should never mix pills with alcohol or drive while taking sleep medication to minimize bad reactions and avoid safety risks.