Commonly Used Prescription Insomnia Medications

Research indicates that medication is prescribed in over 95% of insomnia cases. While they can be an effective way to help you fall and stay asleep, prescription drugs can cause unwanted side effects. Here are some of the common medications prescribed to treat insomnia.


The most common insomnia medications prescribed are benzodiazepines like flurazepam, lorazepam, and clonazepam. This is a class of psychoactive drugs that have a sedative and hypnotic affect on the central nervous system. Benzodiazepines also have anti-anxiety, anticonvulsant, and muscle relaxant properties and are prescribed to treat other medical conditions like seizures and generalized anxiety disorder.

While effective, the major disadvantage to benzodiazepine drugs is they are physically and psychologically addictive. Because of their high potential for abuse, benzodiazepines are listed as Schedule IV drugs by the Drug Enforcement Agency. Benzodiazepines also induce anterograde amnesia and are frequently used to incapacitate victims for sex crimes.


Nonbenzodiaepines have different chemical structures than benzodiazepines, but produce the same hypnotic and sedative affect on the central nervous system. A few well-known drugs in this class are Ambien, Saripidem, and Lunesta. All nonbenzodiazepines are used exclusively to treat mild insomnia.

Although safer than barbiturates and slightly less addictive than benzodiazepines, the threat of physical and psychological dependence is still there. Long-term use of these drugs is discouraged, and many people who use them must step down their dosages over a period of time to avoid the sudden onset of withdrawal symptoms. Some people have also reported performing activities (driving, eating) under the influence of these drugs and not remembering them the next day.


If insomnia is caused by or develops in addition to depression, your doctor may prescribe an antidepressant to treat both conditions at the same time. Common drugs prescribed include Elavil, Endep, and Desyrel. These medications are only effective on people diagnosed with depression. Some side effects associated with these drugs include headache, constipation, blurred vision, dizziness, easy bruising, and memory problems.

Other Natural Options:

Every person’s physiology is different. Some people may have great successes with prescription drugs while others have horrible experiences. If you prefer to use natural methods to cure your insomnia rather than risk the side effects associated with prescription drugs, click here to read about the insomnia treatment options we recommend.