What Medications Can I Take For Insomnia?

    Three main types of medications are common in Hong Kong.

    There are three main types of medications that are commonly prescribed for patients with insomnia in Hong Kong. 

    You can buy medication over the counter without a doctor’s prescription that acts on the histamine receptors (such as medicine for the common cold) and the melatonin receptors. 

    While they are considered first-line therapy, many patients develop tolerance to these medications, and the sleep-promoting effects eventually wear off after prolonged use. Medications acting on the benzodiazepine receptors, including Z drugs (zopiclone or zolpidem), traditional benzodiazepines such as diazepam (Valium) and lorazepam (Ativan), are also helpful in sleep promotion and maintaining sleep throughout the night. However, these lead to dependence and other side effects such as sleepwalking. As such, they are only available with a doctor’s prescription.

    There are other off-label uses of medications that doctors might prescribe for sleep promotion purposes. If a patient is suffering from a co-morbid mental illness, the doctor may choose to prescribe a medication to treat the underlying mental illness with a sedating side-effect, in order to treat the coexisting insomnia. 

    Information provided by:

    Dr Keith Hariman headshot

    Dr Keith Hariman

    Specialist in Psychiatry, OT&P Healthcare

    Please note that all medical articles featured on our website have been reviewed by qualified healthcare doctors. The articles are for general information only and are not medical opinions nor should the contents be used to replace the need for a personal consultation with a qualified medical professional on the reader's medical condition.

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