Kelly Lee, PharmD, associate professor of clinical pharmacy at University of California San Diego Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, discusses drug and nondrug therapies for insomnia on UC San Diego Health.

Benzodiazepines – diazepam (Valium) and alprazolam (Xanax)

These medications non-selectively target the brain’s GABA receptors, reducing neuronal excitability, causing sedation. But they are not the preferred sleep aid anymore, particularly for older adults.

“They have lots of side effects and may cause dependence,” Lee said. “I personally no longer recommend them for my patients.”

These side effects include morning drowsiness, a drugged feeling or dizziness that can predispose older adults to life-altering falls.

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