Over the centuries, a variety of cures for insomnia have been tried. One of the first, and, unfortunately, one that's still in use today, is alcohol.
It's true that alcohol will put you to sleep - it's called passing out in many cases - it's not a good choice for a sleeping pill. Although you do go to sleep, later in the night, sleep patterns tend to be disrupted. You may awaken or suffer from nightmares, walk in your sleep or be otherwise prevented from a peaceful night's sleep.
Another older insomnia remedy was laudanum. Laudanum is an opium based medication, highly addictive and dangerous. Morphine and other barbiturates are also in this class and are much too strong to be used as sleeping pills. They should be used only under close supervision.
Several herbal products, alone or in combination, have been and are used to promote sleep. Other over-the-counter products, including the natural occurring hormone, melatonin and Nytol, Sleep-Eez, and Sominex are also popular insomnia remedies.
Our rushed and sleep deprived lifestyle breeds sleep disorders, including insomnia. For the last few years, sales of sleep remedies have been on the rise, including both over-the-counter remedies and prescription drugs.
New drugs are coming on the market, it seems almost daily. Watch for the second part of this article about sleeping pills, coming later in the week.