Health discusses sleep aids, how they work, and how to take them safely.

One sleepless night does not warrant a sleeping pill prescription, and even those who suffer from acute insomnia may be better off exploring other options. “Sleeping pills are not the only treatment for insomnia, nor are they necessarily required,” Dr. Hilbert says. Additionally, trouble sleeping may be due to other sleep disorders (like sleep apnea or restless legs syndrome), other medical or psychiatric disorders, medications taken for other problems, or poor sleep habits—and it’s important to seek medical help to get a handle on any undiagnosed conditions. “In many cases, treatment of the underlying condition, stopping a medication, or improving sleep habits may be all that is needed,” she says.