If a Loved One is Taking Prescription Painkillers or Aspirin for a Sleeping Disorder, Look for Signs of a Larger Problem

Joel Eisenberg

SleepMatthius Vinicius, Unsplash

Author’s Note

The words that follow are written in part from the perspective of a former mental health professional. I was a licensed Special Education teacher of severely at-risk students, including substance abusers, with a substantive course load in Abnormal Psychology which counted as my training program towards my degree and licensure. Though I left the field to become a full-time writer, I have continued my studies in the mental health realm. Attributions from outside sources are included, and linked.


If you or someone you know regularly ingests prescription painkillers or aspirin as a means of falling asleep, you may have a medical problem and it is well-advised to seek help.

Medications prescribed for physical pain or any other specific purpose must be adhered to precisely as written due to possible side effects or contraindications with other medications. Otherwise, the issue becomes akin to a substance abuser who in the passage of time may require higher quantities of a substance to effectuate the desired result.

Over-the-counter medications such as aspirin or aspirin substitutes must be similarly taken with caution.

Note: Prescriptions and over-the-counter formulae directly related to sleep are outside the scope of this article, though like any other controlled substance must also be taken as prescribed.

Those who tend to self-medicate for sleeping purposes frequently suffer from anxiety-related issues. The mind races; falling asleep becomes difficult which can severely hinder productivity at work and in one’s personal life. Physical issues are also a cause. Self-medicating in any form, however, poses strong risks to the user, which can result in severe incapacitation or even death.

Please consult a professional if you believe you or someone you know has a problem in this regard.

Sleep Deprivation and Medicinal Aids

For a comprehensive article on specific sleeping disorders that can result in sleep deprivation, such as insomnia and sleep apnea, see here for WebMD article, “Understanding Sleep Problems —The Basics.” The article also lists common medications prescribed by doctors to treat these serious issues.

The National Sleep Foundation lists guidelines for healthy sleep. From their website: Scientific research makes clear that sleep is essential at any age. Sleep powers the mind, restores the body, and fortifies virtually every system in the body. But how much sleep do we really need in order to get these benefits? National Sleep Foundation guidelines advise that healthy adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night. Babies, young children, and teens need even more sleep to enable their growth and development. People over 65 should also get 7 to 8 hours per night.

Non-medicinal self-help methods to sleep are plentiful, which can help a sleep disorder sufferer mitigate or sometimes even eliminate their symptoms. These methods include meditation, therapy, reading until you are ready to fall asleep, and physical exercise. For a list of these and other non-medicinal methods to aid the sleep-deprived, click here for another WebMD article, “Alternative Treatments for Insomnia.” Note many of the methods listed have also proven effective for other sleeping disorders.


Sleeping disorders are common and frequently medicated. Self-medicating with painkillers, or aspirin and/or aspirin substitutes, are just as common, and frequently undertaken as a response to numb emotional pain when they should be taken solely for the physical.

Seek a medical professional if you or someone you know suffer from any of the disorders as mentioned or linked within this article.

I hope this helps those who need it. Thank you for reading.

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I am an award-winning author, screenwriter for film and television, and producer. My mission on News Break is to share socially important perspectives on both culture and pop-culture. Member of PEN America, and the WGA.

Northridge, CA

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