Sleep Medicine Specialist Questions Sleeping pills

When is a person recommended to take sleeping tablets?

My father is 72 years old and is unable to sleep well at night. Can the doctor prescribe sleeping tablets for him?

2 Answers

There is real reason to avoid giving sleep medicines to elderly patients. It increases their risk of falls and also their risk of cognitive impairment (confusion). Insomnia is a serious and challenging problem. Common reasons need to be explored rather than simply covered up. Look for anxiety, depression, sleep apnea, periodic limb movement disorder, medication side effects, maladaptive behaviors, and other medical conditions. Each has its own treatment. There is a behavioral technique called cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia which in controlled studies is as effective as sleeping medication. It may be worth seeing a sleep specialist rather than a general physician, who may not have the experience required to pursue this in detail.
Your father has to see a sleep specialist so they can examine your father and diagnose appropriately. If indeed he has a sleep disorder that can be treated, then we need to treat it instead of prescribing a sleep aide, which will act as a bandaid solution. However, there are some patients that do benefit from a sleep aide, if they don't have a treatable sleep disorder or if they need a short-term treatment for insomnia related to stress. I would not recommend any long-term treatment with a sleep aide without a
proper evaluation by a sleep specialist.
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