Serious Question: How Do Sleeping Pills Affect Your Brain?

Sleeping pill commercials are all very predictable: There's the individual in question lying awake and distressed in bed at night, but then, as if by some stroke of magic, they take the sleeping pill being advertised, and the next thing you know, they're out cold sleeping peacefully before stretching their arms the next morning ready to take on the day. The solution sounds heavenly, but it's the sorcery that's the most suspect: How can a little pill make you fall asleep for a specific time frame then allow you to wake up feeling refreshed? It's essentially an anesthetic you can sometimes even buy over the counter. That's a little scary, no? Plus there's the possibility of becoming dependent on them, meaning that you could get to a point when you can't fall asleep without taking them. For anyone who's ever helplessly stared at the ceiling at 4 a.m. night after night, developing a dependency doesn't sound like the worst issue to have in the short term, but it's troubling nonetheless. So how exactly do sleeping pills work anatomically? We decided to take a deep dive.

To sum it up, training your body to fall asleep is a safer bet than using pills, although we get that this isn't a fast remedy. Yes, pills may help you get the rest your body needs, but it's not a full, natural, and deep sleep you'd get without using a hypnotic. To discover your best course of action, speak with your doctor.

Up next, read how one editor trained herself to fall asleep in under a minute.