- Sober living

13 Jun 2022


When you’re older, sleeping pills tend to stay in your system longer. For older adults, this could result in falls, broken hips, and car accidents. If you’re 65 or older, experts suggest that you avoid all sleep aids. This includes over-the-counter drugs and the newer “Z” drugs like eszopiclone , zaleplon , and zolpidem . Alcohol and sleeping pills are depressants that affect the central nervous system. Mixing alcohol with sleeping pills amplifies their sedative effects, slowing heart rate and depressing the respiratory system.


According to the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, nearly 15.6 million Americans aged 12 or older struggle with alcohol addiction. According to American Sleep Association, 50 to 70 million American adults have a sleep disorder. Nearly 30 percent experience short-term insomnia and 10 percent struggle with chronic insomnia.

What if you have a glass of wine, and inadvertently take a sleep aid later? Are you at imminent risk of a life-threatening drug-drug interaction? To make sure you are safe, the best approach is to a) stop drinking immediately and b) ask a friend or family member to help monitor any symptoms. Signs of a potential problem include excessive dizziness and drowsiness, fainting, difficulty breathing, and a slow heart rate. Valerian is an herbal supplement often taken as a sleep aid or to treat anxiety symptoms. Avoid drinking if you take valerian, as mixing them canincrease side effectslike dizziness, drowsiness, confusion and difficulty concentrating.

  • Sleep driving, which is driving while not fully awake, is another serious sleeping pill side effect.
  • There are several types of sleeping pills on the market today, including non-benzodiazepine hypnotics, benzodiazepines, barbiturates, and even over-the-counter antihistamines like Benadryl.
  • As noted in the 2019 Beers Criteria, it is recognized that many drugs with anticholinergic properties should be avoided in the elderly whenever possible.
  • Although both sleeping pills and alcohol are legal, they can impair the mind so severely that simple activities, like walking or driving, become dangerous and potentially fatal.

You can contact the Finnish Student Health Service, FSHS, if you are not feeling mentally well or worried about your alcohol or drug use. Parasomnia behaviors also put people at greater risk of falling or suffering an injury during sleep-activities or even hurting others. Parasomnia behaviors can be dangerous and may pose harm to the sleeping individual and others. Diphenhydramine and Doxylamine succinate work by blocking the effects of histamine in the body, which influences the wake/sleep cycle. When you drink a large amount of alcohol your body works to reverse the CNS depression it causes by releasing more of a hormone called glutamate, which is used to create a sense of wakefulness.

According to Mayo Clinic, mixing alcohol with certain sleeping pills has been linked to increased levels of anxiety and depression. This creates a vicious cycle of substance abuse as anxiety and depression are often a precursor to sleeping problems and substance use disorders. Melatonin is a dietary supplement that many people view as a safer sleep aid than prescription pills. It’s a hormone that your body naturally produces to keep your sleep cycle, or circadian rhythm, consistent. Even though it’s available over-the-counter, it should not be mixed with alcohol. The combination can cause side effects like drowsiness, dizziness, anxiety, or increased blood pressure.

What Can Happen When You Mix Alcohol With Sleeping Medications?

Alcohol is the most commonly abused substance in America and more than 14.5 million Americans are thought to have an alcohol use disorder. Sleeping pill addiction, on the other hand, is less common than alcoholism, but just as severe. Reliant on sleep aids—in part because they don’t promote that deep sleep everyone needs.

behavioral health

The National Alliance on Mental Illness suggests that all people who take antidepressants avoid alcohol, but the organization reports that some people are reluctant to give up drinking. As a result, they suggest that one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men is permitted by some doctors who prescribe antidepressants for their patients. It is known that people who combine benzodiazepines and alcohol can slide into a coma-like state and require care from a professional team to recover. Without that immediate, emergency care, people can die as a result of combining these drugs. Contact ustoday to learn more about alcohol addiction treatment programs that can work well for your needs.

If you struggle with sleeping pills and alcohol or other drugs, life in recovery is possible. A wide range of treatment options are available, including flexible outpatient programs that give you the medical attention and support you need while allowing you to live at home. Personalized treatment programs can also help you address any sleep disorders or other co-occurring mental health issues that may be interfering with sleep. Conversely, people with insomnia may often use alcohol to help fall asleep.

Drinking alcohol can increase the likelihood of these dangerous experiences which may be described as dissociative or fugue-like in nature. As many as 30% of American women reported using some kind of sleep aid each week. A similar warning appears in documentation from the manufacturer of the sedative-hypnotic drug Sonata. Here, manufacturers report that the drug should not be provided to those with a history of drug dependence and that it should be stored safely to prevent abuse.

You never truly know how the drugs will interact when they are in your body, and the experience you have one day might be completely different from the experience you have another day. Each time you combine the substances, you are hoping that you will not experience an issue that will cost you your life. Sleeping pills and alcohol is extremely dangerous and leads to potentially dangerous interactions. Both sleeping pills and alcohol depress specific body systems and functions, so something like zopiclone and alcohol, or alcohol and Unisom, should always be avoided. When these drugs are used together, even in miniscule doses, it can lead to adverse symptoms that include dizziness, confusion, and fainting.

Co-occurring evaluating business investments treatment or other mental health care, when needed. 10 to 20 percent of Americans take over-the-counter sleep aids each year, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. You may not be aware that taking alcohol with this medication can actually make insomnia worse, completely negating the entire reason for taking the sleeping pill in the first place. Even one drink of alcohol can have a negative effect on the body if someone is also using sleep medicine. For example, combining the two can cause dizziness, confusion or even fainting.

Krokodil: A Dangerous Opioid With Irreversible Consequences

The risks of mixing alcohol and central nervous system depressants, such as sleeping pills, are serious. Those who mix alcohol and sleeping pills run a high risk of overdosing, which can result in dangerously slow breathing and brain activity and can lead to death. Additionally, some sleeping pills come with side effects like memory loss and sleepwalking.

In this section, you will find information and resources related to evidence-based treatment models, counseling and therapy and payment and insurance options. Ensuring your bedroom is quiet and dark may help, as well as engaging in relaxing activities before bedtime. Avoiding late afternoon naps, large meals late in the evening, and nighttime exercise could also positively impact sleep quality.


You should also avoid the use of alcohol while being treated with the non-benzodiazepine medications, (often referred to as the “Z” drugs). Alcohol can further increase the central nervous system side effects of these drugs such as drowsiness, dizziness, and trouble concentrating. Some people may also experience impairment in thinking, judgment, memory or reflexes. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions or concerns.

Harmful Side Effects of Mixing Sleeping Pills with Alcohol

Silenor is prescribed to treat insomnia17in people who have trouble staying asleep. Drinking alcohol with doxepin may increase the sedating effects of alcohol. Increased sedation10from mixing alcohol and sleep aids like doxepin can cause breathing problems, coma or death.

dangers of mixing

When used as prescribed, these medications can be helpful in the short-term; but when overused or combined with drugs and/or alcohol, serious side effects, physical dependence, or overdose can occur. Respondents were asked whether they had used alcohol to aid sleep in the past month (yes/no), and the number of days they drank alcohol in the past week (0–7). Alcohol to aid sleep was the primary outcome for analyses of our primary hypothesis and focal predictor for our analyses for hypotheses two and three. In addition, alcohol and sleeping pills together can increase one’s chance to sleepwalk, have memory loss, or engage in strange behaviors such as driving a car and having no memory of it. Dual orexin 1 and 2 receptor antagonists are a newer class of sleep medications that block orexin, a brain chemical involved in wakefulness and arousal.

One of the most common treatments for insomnia and other sleep disorders is sleeping pills. Most sleeping pills are nonbenzodiazepine hypnotics, which are depressants that slow down the central nervous system. While available over the counter, antihistamine sleep aids are less effective than other sleeping medications and may cause a variety of minor side effects when used with alcohol. However, regardless of the type of sleep medicine you may be using, you should never mix sleeping pills with alcohol. A variety of different over-the-counter and prescription sleep aid medications are used to help those experiencing sleep disorders and difficulties. Alcohol and sleep medications each affect the central nervous system and influence the same GABA receptors in the brain, so when used together, they can exponentially intensify possible side effects.

Trey has a degree in journalism from American University and has been writing professionally since 2011. Z-drugs quiet activity in the brain, allowing individuals to fall sleep more easily. Benzodiazepines, such as Restoril, are also sometimes prescribed to treat insomnia.

It is important to know what effects drugs and alcohol can have when taken with sleeping pills. Whether someone begins taking sleeping pills first or drinking alcohol first, mixing the two substances may increase the risk of dependence and addiction. The reality that this combination is incredibly dangerous and could be potentially deadly. When you combine the two, you put yourself in a situation where your body may fall into a deep state of sedation that it may not be able to come out of. If you or someone you love is addicted to sleeping pills and alcohol, know that there is help available.

Some physical side effects of this mixture include slowed heart rate, slow breathing, difficulty breathing, disorientation, drowsiness, increased risk of overdose, lowered blood pressure, and even death. In a world where getting a good night’s sleep isn’t commonplace, it may not be surprising to learn that four percent of people ages 20 and old shared they over-use prescription sleep aids, according to the CDC. Many drugs in this class are used for the short-term treatment of insomnia. You may feel more drowsy, dizzy, or tired if you take a benzodiazepine with alcohol.

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