Sleeping Tablets and Tranquillisers

Dear Patient

As your medical team we are wary about the overuse of sleeping tablets (tranquillisers), and the risks of taking them in the long term.

We are sharing this information sheet with you to involve you in the discussion about these medicines, to avoid harm, and to help you reduce and stop them if you have been taking them for a long time.

The commonly used drugs in question are listed in the box below. They can be helpful for severe sudden anxiety or sleep problems, but nearly always do more harm than good if used in the longer term.

For example there is evidence showing an association with dementia and a risk of injury through falling in people taking them for a long time. People also tend to find them less effective over time which can lead to taking higher doses. Also, patients can become addicted to these medicines. Addiction can cause severe harm and is clearly something we want to avoid.

People taking these drugs can be nervous of stopping them in case their sleeping or anxiety will get worse. In fact, studies show that those who do stop taking them are glad that they stopped. Once they have adjusted to not using them, they report similar (or better) sleeping patterns and anxiety levels.

If you are taking one of the medicines below regularly we would like to help you stop and will talk you through a plan to stop them gradually and with our help, at a pace you can cope with. We do not suggest you try to stop them suddenly.

Other things we may do to help manage the risks of these drugs include:

  • prescribing in short courses,
  • prescribing as occasional prescriptions only, rather than place them on repeat prescription,
  • asking you to attend for review more often than for your other medicines,
  • as policy, prescribe only from a list of drugs with which we are familiar.

We hope you will appreciate these steps are to help us provide good, safe care. If you have questions about your particular situation please discuss this with your doctor at your next review.

Yours sincerely,

Ridgacre Medical Centres

Common sleeping tablets (also known as tranquillisers)

Those we aim to use:

Those we seek to avoid*:




Nitrazepam, Temazepam, Lorazepam, Oxazepam, Zopiclone, Zolpidem


*We sometimes prescribe these medicines on specialist advice but aim not to start them ourselves. If started by the A&E department in an urgent situation we aim to not continue them in the long term.

Skip to content