Drugs used to help sleep include benodiazepines, antihistamines and 'Z’ drugs. Tolerance and dependence develop after only a few weeks of use and they should only be used for short-term relief of insomnia to a maximum of 28 days. Benzodiazepines can increase risk of hip fracture in older people, are linked to increased mortality and a risk of developing dementia. They should be avoided in patients with breathing or addiction problems.
This advice sheet gives tips for use of sleep aids, particularly for those residents of care and nursing homes.