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Sleep Medication Summary

The table below lists some of the most commonly-used medications for people with sleep difficulties. Not all of these have been shown to be safe and effective for alleviating insomnia and other sleep problems and, except for the first two categories, most were not even designed to alleviate insomnia and other sleep problems, but have turned out to be useful for that purpose.

  • melatonin receptor agonists
    • Rozerem (ramelteon) — no evidence of abuse, dependence, or withdrawal; approved for long-term use
  • non-benzodiazepine sleep aids (sedative hypnotics)
    • Ambien (zolpidem) — may lose effectiveness if taken longer than two weeks
    • Ambien CR (zolpidem) — may lose effectiveness if taken longer than two weeks
    • Lunesta (eszopiclone)
    • Sonata (zaleplon) — can be habit-forming
  • long-acting benzodiazepines — all of these can be habit-forming
    • Dalmane (flurazepam)
    • Doral (quazepam)
    • Klonopin (clonazepam)
  • medium- to short-acting benzodiazepines — all of these can be habit-forming
    • Ativan (lorazepam)
    • Centrax (prazepam)
    • Halcion (triazolam) — high abuse potential
    • ProSom (estazolam)
    • Restoril (temazepam)
    • Rohypnol (flunitrazepam)
    • Serax (oxazepam)
    • Valium (diazepam)
    • Xanax (alprazolam)
  • sedating antidepressants — none of these are addictive
    • Desyrel (trazodone, a tetracyclic antidepressant)
    • Remeron (mirtazapine, a tetracyclic antidepressant) — causes weight gain
    • Elavil (amitriptylene, a tricyclic antidepressant)
    • Pamelor (nortriptylene, a tricyclic antidepressant)
    • Silenor and Sinequan (doxepin, a tricyclic antidepressant)
  • sedating medications used off-label
    • Seroquel (quetiapine, an atypical antipsychotic)
  • over-the-counter (non-prescription) nighttime sleep aids
    • Benadryl, Nytol, Sominex, Compoz, Sleep-Eze, Sleepinal, Simply Sleep, Unisom gelcaps (diphenhydramine, an antihistamine)
    • Unisom tablets, Wal-Som (doxylamine, an antihistamine)
    • Atarax, Vistaril (hydroxyzine, an antihistamine)
    • Chlor-Trimeton (chlorpheniramine, an antihistamine)
  • dietary supplements and herbal remedies
    • melatonin — safe, inexpensive, well studied
    • tryptophan
    • valerian root
    • kava
    • marijuana