Ask the doctor: Should I keep taking sleeping pills?

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Q. I have been taking a sleeping pill for about a year, and it has helped me get a good night's sleep. My doctor says he does not think it's a good idea for me to continue taking it. I'm worried that if I go off the drug, I won't sleep well. Should I stop?

A. The short answer is yes, you should. Even without knowing what kind of sleeping pill you are taking, I can confidently tell you that there is no sleeping pill intended for long-term use. These drugs can be very helpful for short-term use; that's their intended purpose. But with long-term use, they are more likely to cause side effects and to alter how you sleep.

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