The Globe and Mail discusses side effects of commonly used OTC and prescription sleeping pills, focusing on their effects on the elderly.

The most common over-the-counter sleep medicines, including Tylenol Nighttime and Benadryl, contain the sleep-inducing ingredient diphenhydramine hydrochloride. According to Ariel Green, a geriatric health specialist at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Md., these readily available drugs can cause dizziness, confusion, urinary retention, constipation and dry mouth. Their effects can be more pronounced in older people because they’re more likely to have sluggish metabolisms, low body weight and other medical issues, plus interactions with drugs they’re already taking to treat those other issues. Even more worrisome, the side effects are often ignored because people mistake them for general problems related to getting older.