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Self Assessment

Practitioner BeliefsWhat Patients SaidWhat Patients Need What Practitioners Need to Understand

What patients told us about hypnotics

→ 95% had taken hypnotics for 4 weeks or more

→ 45% advised to continue treatment for a month or more and a further 42% not advised on duration

→ 92.1% were on repeat prescriptions

→ 87.9% first prescribed by GP

→ 18.6% wished to stop medication

→ More than 90% of patients had taken the drug for 4 weeks or more contrary to the drug licence and current guidance.

→ More than 90% of patients had been advised to continue treatment for 4 weeks or not been advised on duration which is contrary to the short-term licence for these drugs. 

→ More than 90% of patients were on repeat prescriptions.

→ Around 90% of patients first prescribed a hypnotic by their GP despite some GPs feeling that psychiatrists and others had started these drugs rather than the GP.

→ At least one side effect was reported in 41.8% of patients.

→ Around a fifth of patients (18.6%) wished to come off hypnotic medication; and 48.5% had tried to stop treatment.


Siriwardena AN, Qureshi MZ, Dyas JV, Middleton H, Ørner R.  Magic bullets for insomnia? Patients’ use and experience of newer (z drugs) versus older (benzodiazepine) hypnotics for sleep problems in primary care. BJGP 2008.