Sleeping pills before or after eating

Sleeping pills are intended for the treatment of insomnia, so they should be taken at night. Since all oral medications are absorbed in the stomach, meals can affect their bioavailability. Therefore, patients who suffer from insomnia often ask their primary care physician: when to take sleeping pills – before or after eating?

The way that food interacts with your medications influences the effectiveness of sleeping pills in the pharmacotherapy of insomnia. If a medicine is not taken as recommended with respect to food, it may not provide an effect. Instruction should indicate, when should the sleeping pills be taken: before or after eating. If there is no such indication, the drug should be taken on an empty stomach, i.e. at least 1 hour before or 2 hours after a meal.

Sleeping pills, which are used for the treatment of insomnia:

  • barbiturates
  • benzodiazepines
  • non-benzodiazepines

For a safe and effective treatment, barbiturates (e.g., Seconal) should be taken on an empty stomach. Administration of sleeping pills after food violates the pharmacokinetics of the drug.

Benzodiazepines for the treatment of insomnia, such as Brotizolam, should be taken on an empty stomach only. That is, at least 2-3 hours should pass between the end of dinner and the sleeping pills ingestion.

Non-benzodiazepine tranquilizers, e.g., Zaleplon can be taken after a meal, and the food should not be heavy and high-fat. Fatty and high-calorie food reduces the bioavailability of sleeping pills, and thus reduces their effectiveness for the treatment of insomnia.

Compliance with the following dietary recommendations and nutritional requirements will help fall asleep quicker, whether you use sleeping pills or not:

  • eating smaller portions more frequently (4-5 times) throughout the day;
  • stick to your diet plan, agreed with the attending physician;
  • avoid eating late at night: ideally, you should have dinner at least three hours before going to sleep;
  • meals should be light to digest and low in calories: no more than 1400-1500 calories a day.

When a person takes sleeping pills to treat insomnia, he should eliminate from the diet or limit the use of the products, like strong tea, coffee and caffeine-containing drinks, very spicy and salty foods, fatty and high-calorie foods, and foods that cause flatulence (e.g. cabbage or beans).