The Problem with Sleeping Pills and a Better Way to Treat Insomnia

Cover image for the blog post titled 'The Problem with Sleeping Pills and a Better Way to Treat Insomnia' featuring a visual metaphor for sleep issues and potential solutions without medication
Have you ever considered taking sleeping pills to help with your sleep problems?
Maybe you've even been prescribed some by your doctor (like I was)!
I know they seem like a quick and easy fix, but you might want to think twice before taking sleeping pills outside the guidance of a qualified sleep specialist.
Many primary care physicians often default to prescribing sleeping pills if a patient complains of trouble sleeping. But they don’t realize the prescription is at best a temporary fix for sleep and could actually make the problem worse.
So here are a few things to consider as you contemplate whether sleeping pills are right for you.

Sleeping Pills: A Temporary Fix for Sleep Problems

Using sleeping pills is like using crutches when you have a broken leg. They can help you as you work toward a more permanent solution — but just like the crutches, the pills themselves are not the solution.
I learned this the hard way.
After I complained about my longstanding sleep issues, my doctor prescribed me Ambien and convinced me to take it. She assured me that it was safe and non-habit forming and that my hesitations were nothing to worry about.
For a while, it seemed like a miracle drug. No matter what was going on, I could take this tiny pill and in 30 minutes I was asleep. Sun still up? Asleep. Super Bowl party in the next room? Asleep. Stuck in the world’s least comfortable airplane seat? Asleep!
But what I didn't realize was that I was essentially masking my sleep issues as opposed to fixing them and I would come to need that Ambien more and more as time went on.

Tolerance and Dependency: The Hidden Dangers of Sleeping Pills

One day... the magic pill stopped working. I took my usual half an Ambien, got in bed, and... I couldn’t fall asleep.
I waited a week or two before trying Ambien again. Again, it made no difference.
When I called my doctor to let her know, her only suggestion was for me to take MORE Ambien. When I said I wouldn't do that her second answer... was for me to take Trazodone.
But the idea that I had developed a tolerance — and maybe a dependency — on a sleeping pill was a wake-up call. I knew right then and there I had to find a better way.

Sleeping Pills and Insomnia Treatment: A Misunderstood Relationship

That's not to say that sleeping pills are the enemy.
In some cases, sleeping pills can play a helpful role in treating sleep disorders or other medical issues. But they are rarely needed to treat insomnia.
And, when they are used, they need to be managed thoughtfully, usually as a bridge to a long-term sleep treatment, rather than a lifelong solution.
So again, like the crutches. Can they be helpful? Sure! But it's not the same as walking. And you'd still expect your doctor to fix your leg. Same with sleeping pills. Sedation is not the same as sleeping, and there are scientifically proven ways to actually fix insomnia so you can get quality sleep without any special pills or potions.

The Importance of Addressing the Root Causes of Insomnia for Long-lasting Results

Instead of just addressing the symptoms of your sleep issues, you have to learn to identify and address the root causes of your sleep problems. That's how you get long-lasting results.
For me that means I went from having trouble sleeping even when conditions were perfect — I literally traveled with my own blackout blinds, sound machine, pillow, and a long list of other stuff — to now I can sleep just about anywhere as long as the room isn't hot and I have a sleep mask.
By directly targeting the two main causes of insomnia—high arousal and low sleep drive.
No more pills, no more expensive sleep gear... just confidence in my body, and lots of quality sleep.
You deserve the same.



Our New FREE TRAINING, "How to Get the Quality Sleep You Need Without Medication, Meditation, Quitting Caffeine, or Giving Up Screens" is packed with tips and insights to kickstart your Sleep Fix journey and teach you all about our Sleep Fix Method course.


I’m on a mission to help you sleep better with practical, evidence-based solutions. 

As a professional news anchor and correspondent, I saw my own sleep and health deteriorate for years. I tried one standard sleep tip after another. But they either didn’t work, or seemed completely unrealistic — and in some cases both. 

So I used my experience as a journalist and problem solver to research and consult with experts and patients all across sleep science. Together they helped me create actionable fixes that are practical, easy to understand and, most importantly, really work! 


Keeping a sleep diary is often the first thing a sleep specialist will tell you to do and it can be an incredibly valuable tool, whether you’re tackling your sleep problems yourself or seeking professional help.


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