Hypnotic drugs refer to medication that are meant to induce calm and sleep. Hypnotic drugs are also called soporific drugs. Hypnotic drugs are usually used in treating people with insomnia, or sleep problems. These kinds of drugs are also used in anesthesia for people who are about to undergo a surgical procedure. The term hypnotic drugs is very broad and covers a wide variety of specific medication.
The most common kinds of hypnotic drugs are benzodiazepines. These drugs used to be the first choice when it came to treating sleep problems. They are very effective in inducing sleep and you must get a prescription from a doctor in order to purchase benzodiazepines. The main issue with benzodiazepines is that they can only be used effectively in the short term. This is due to the fact that after one or two weeks, patients usually develop a tolerance to benzodiazepines. This means that the drugs do not work as effectively as they initially do. In effect, after a couple of weeks of use, benzodiazepines will practically be useless. In addition to this, benzodiazepines also cause the patient to suffer from poor quality sleep as well as present the risk of dependence.
An alternative to benzodiazepines, which are becoming more popular, are nonbenzodiazepines. The advantage that these drugs bring is that they do not seem to present the risk of drug dependence that benzodiazepines do.
Other kinds of hypnotic drugs are barbiturates, melatonin, and the drugs used in anesthesia. Barbiturates are addictive and can pose the risk of overdose, hence the decline in their popularity. Melatonin, while it is not actually a drug, is becoming increasingly used today as it is a natural substance and does not pose the risk of addiction.