You might have heard of sedative drugs being used in medical procedures, but they're also being prescribed by doctors to their patients as well. Here's why.

Sedative Drugs: What Are They for and How Do They Work?

Research shows that 50-70 million US adults suffer from sleep disorders. In addition, those same studies found that 16.4 million people around the world have serious sleep disorders.

That’s why many people take sedative drugs to help them sleep. But what sedative drugs are there? And how do they work?

If you want to learn more about the sedative drugs people take, keep reading to discover the answers.

What Are Sedatives and What Are They Used For?

Sedative drugs are commonly used to relieve anxiety and tension. They work by slowing down the nervous system, which makes them ideal for treating conditions like insomnia.

Sedatives are alternatives to treat seizures and other medical conditions. Sedative drugs can be addictive and should only use under the supervision of a healthcare provider.

How Do Sedatives Work?

Sedatives work by depressing the central nervous system. This slows down brain activity and the body’s response to stimuli. This can produce a feeling of relaxation.

The Different Types of Sedatives Available

Sedative drugs are those that produce a calming or relaxing effect. They can be used to relieve anxiety, help you sleep, or make you feel less agitated. Here’s a list of sedatives including benzodiazepines, barbiturates, and antidepressants.


Benzodiazepines are the most common sedative prescription medication type. They treat anxiety, agitation, and sleep disorders. It works by increasing the activity of a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA).

This neurotransmitter slows down the activity of the central nervous system. Benzodiazepines are generally safe when used as directed. 

But they can be addictive and may cause drowsiness, dizziness, and impaired judgment. Be sure to know how to spot fake Xanax or benzodiazepines and avoid being at risk.


Barbiturates are a type of sedative that was once widely used but is now less common due to the availability of safer alternatives. Barbiturates work by depressing the central nervous system.

This can produce a feeling of relaxation. Same as Benzodiazepines, it can create the same cons.


Antidepressants are a type of medication that is commonly used to treat depression. Yet some antidepressants can also be used to treat anxiety. 

It works by increasing the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain. This can help to improve mood and relieve anxiety.

Antidepressants are generally safe when used as directed. But they can cause side effects such as headaches, nausea, and insomnia.

The Pros and Cons of Using Sedatives

When taken as directed, sedatives can help people fall asleep and stay asleep. This can be beneficial for people who have difficulty sleeping or who need to sleep for extended periods of time, such as during long-distance travel.

But one of the biggest potential risks is that sedatives can cause drowsiness and impair coordination. This can make it dangerous to drive or operate machinery while taking a sedative.

The Bottom Line of Sedative Drugs

Although sedative drugs are often thought of as “sleeping pills,” they do not work by causing sleep. Instead, they work by reducing the activity of the nervous system.

This can make a person feel more relaxed and less anxious. Sedative drugs are often used to treat anxiety, insomnia, and seizure disorders. If you are considering using a sedative drug, be sure to talk to your healthcare provider first.

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