CLEVELAND -- People who have trouble falling asleep or maintaining their sleep may turn to sleep aids. Some are over-the-counter, others are prescribed by a doctor.
Dr. Kingman Strohl, Director of the Center for Sleep Disorders and Research at Case Western Reserve University, says prescribed sleeping pills are fairly safe and they're effective.
"The difficulty that people have experienced with problems are waking up in the middle of the night, and either falls or not remembering things," says Strohl. "Short acting sleeping medications can result in people awakening and cooking a cake or running a bath and not remembering that, those particular side effects are the result of part of your brain being sedated."
Strohl says over the counter sleep medications have some degree of a drowsiness effect and may contain an antihistamine or anticholinergic and there is some degree of sedative effects that are very small. "They work best if you're sleepy so that the particular benefit that someone get is probably because they're ready to go to sleep and that taking a pill gives them the opportunity to plan to go to sleep."
He says side effects can be dry mouth, and difficulty in urination for older people, especially males.
Strohl believes before you turn to a sleeping pill you should do a sleep inventory of why you're having difficulty falling asleep. "Do you spend enough time trying to fall asleep, is your relaxing time before you go to sleep there or is it filled up with computers or cell phones or text messages or other sorts of things?"