Additionally, benzodiazepines can indirectly cause or worsen other psychiatric symptoms (e.g., mood, anxiety, psychosis, irritability) by worsening sleep (i.e., benzodiazepine-induced sleep disorder).
Like alcohol, benzodiazepines are commonly used to treat insomnia in the short-term (both prescribed and self-medicated), but worsen sleep in the long-term.
While benzodiazepines can put people to sleep but, while asleep, the drugs disrupt sleep architecture: decreasing sleep time, delaying time to REM sleep, and decreasing deep slow-wave sleep (the most restorative part of sleep for both energy and mood).
Sedatives can sometimes leave the patient with long-term or short-term amnesia.
There is some overlap between the terms "sedative" and "hypnotic".
Advances in pharmacology have permitted more specific targeting of receptors, and greater selectivity of agents, which necessitates greater precision when describing these agents and their effects: Doctors often administer sedatives to patients in order to dull the patient's anxiety related to painful or anxiety-provoking procedures.
Some heroin users may take them either to supplement their drug or to substitute for it.
Lorazepam is one such pharmacological agent that can cause anterograde amnesia.
Intensive care unit patients who receive higher doses over longer periods, typically via IV drip, are more likely to experience such side effects.
Accidental deaths sometimes occur when a drowsy, confused user repeats doses, or when sedatives are taken with alcohol.
A study from the United States found that in 2011, sedatives and hypnotics were a leading source of adverse drug events (ADEs) seen in the hospital setting: Approximately 2.8% of all ADEs present on admission and 4.4% of ADEs that originated during a hospital stay were caused by a sedative or hypnotic drug.