ANNOUNCER: If you're suffering from insomnia, sleeping medications can be useful tools under a doctor's guidance, but most do come with a risk.
Lauren Broch, PhD, Sleep Specialist: Many people that I see are people who have been on a sleep medication prescription or over-the-counter for weeks, years, and really do have this misconception that the pill is really what's sleeping for them. People become either physically and/or psychologically addicted
ANNOUNCER: And the effects of sleep medications can also be felt long after you're out of bed.
Lauren Broch, PhD, Sleep Specialist: The next day they can feel a little bit woozy from it, a little big groggy, and there are certainly memory problems associated with chronic sleep medication use, as well.
ANNOUNCER: And if you're older, the risks can be even greater.
Lauren Broch, PhD, Sleep Specialist: Having balance problems and falling, you know, which is, of course, of great concern, because of anybody there, the least that can afford to fall
ANNOUNCER: Your doctor should always be involved in your decision to try any medication
Lauren Broch, PhD, Sleep Specialist: I don't recommend over-the-counters. I recommend that you discuss it first with your doctor, because there may be some other issues going on that you haven't thought about that he or she can bring together.
ANNOUNCER: If you can't sleep, you're not alone - about 42 million sleeping pill prescriptions were filled last year, up nearly 60 percent since 2000.
Lauren Broch, PhD, Sleep Specialist: Medications are very helpful at times and for certain, you know, reasons, and they can help someone fall asleep and stay asleep and do that on a fairly regular basis. But you don't want to take that for months. Maybe for a few weeks at a time, and with your doctor overseeing it, as well.
ANNOUNCER: Thanks for joining us on today's Once Daily!