The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that 70 million Americans have severe sleep problems. It also reported that from 2017 to 2018, just over 8% of adults aged 18 years or older admit to taking medication as a means to help them sleep.
Sleeping pills are a popular way in which people seek relief from sleep disorders. Alcohol also has a sedative effect. Some people have a nightcap, which is a drink before bed to help them sleep.
But is mixing sleeping pills and alcohol before bed an advisable practice?
The Sedative Power Of Alcohol
There is no doubt that alcohol can help you relax and feel drowsy. Research has shown that it provides a sedative effect on the central nervous system.
A small amount of alcohol can, at first, be a great sleep agent. The danger lies in the fact that the body starts to build tolerance for alcohol. That means you will need increasing amounts of alcohol to drift off to sleep. There is also the risk that a dependency on alcohol is developed.
When you start taking an excessive amount of alcohol, it may prevent you from sleeping. Research shows that high levels of alcohol may negatively affect neurotransmitters in the brain that help one sleep. So, there is the possibility that alcohol can cause insomnia.
Getting Sleep Through Medication
For those suffering from a sleep disorder, sleeping pills can provide relief. Yet, they need to be considered as a short-term solution. Like any other type of medication, there is the possibility that people create an addiction to sleeping pills.
This heightens the chance of the pills being abused or an individual overdoses. Indications that someone may be overdosing on sleeping pills are:
- Feeling extremely lethargic
- Trouble with breathing
- Abdominal pain
Symptoms of abusing this medication are:
- Having a dry mouth
- Drowsiness during the day
- Feeling dizziness
- Slurred speech
- Coordination problems
- Impaired memory
- Feeling lightheaded
- Slow breathing rate
Becoming reliant on the sleeping pills as a way to help you get some rest, or consistently using up the medication before the end of the prescription period can be taken as additional warning signs that you are abusing the pills.
Another effect that the pills may offer is a euphoric sensation. That can also be a motivation for people to misuse the medicine to try and get that high.
Why Is It Dangerous To Combine Alcohol With A Sleeping Pill?
As we mentioned, sleeping pills have the potential to provide someone with an ecstatic feeling. Alcohol also shares this characteristic. Both sleeping pills and alcohol act as a sedative that allows one to relax and get a good sleep.
For people struggling with insomnia, there can be the temptation to combine sleeping pills with beer to enhance the sedative nature both provide.
Individuals who are chasing drug-induced highs may mix both substances. Doing so may increase the euphoric sensation they are seeking. Yet, the negative side effects can also be intensified when taking alcohol and sleeping pills simultaneously. Poor coordination opens the way for a major, or even fatal, accident to occur. Heart rate and breathing can both drop to dangerously low levels.
If You Drink You Need To Wait Before Taking Your Medicine
If you are prescribed sleeping pills as an aid to help you, it is still possible to have alcohol. However, you want to wait until the alcohol has left your system. How long that period is all depends on the amount of alcohol you have consumed.
A cautious time frame is to wait at least 8 hours after your last drink before you take your sleeping pills.
For those who suffer from sleep deprivation issues, sleeping pills are a way to help get much-needed rest. Alcohol may also be considered due to the sedative effect that it can provide. However, the small nightcap that helps one nod off can turn into an increasing number of drinks as tolerance to alcohol builds.
Mixing sleeping pills with alcohol may be seen as a way to increase the positive effects both substances offer, especially for those who have insomnia. On the other hand, the potential health risks such as lower heart rate decreased breathing, and coordination problems are also enhanced when mixing alcohol with medicinal sleep aids.
If you find it hard to get to sleep at night, seek medical advice. For those who are currently on a prescription of sleeping pills, wait at least 8 hours after your last drink before taking the medicine.