sleeping pill

GC: n

S: CC – (last access: 20 November 2018); WebMD – (last access: 20 November 2018).

N: 1. – sleeping (adj): c. 1300, present-participle adjective from sleep (v.). Sleeping-pill is from 1660s; sleeping-bag is from 1850; sleeping sickness as a specific African tropical disease is first recorded 1875; sleeping has been used since late 14c. for diseases marked by morbid conditions. Sleeping Beauty (1729) is Perrault’s La belle au bois dormant.
– pill (n): “small ball or round mass of medicine,” c. 1400, from Middle Dutch or Middle Low German pille and Middle French pile, all from Latin pilula “pill,” literally “little ball,” diminutive of pila “a ball, playing ball,” said to be related to pilus “hair” if the original notion was “hairball.” Figurative sense “something disagreeable that must be swallowed” is from 1540s; slang meaning “boring person” is recorded from 1871. The pill “contraceptive pill” is from 1957.
2. A pill or tablet containing a sedative drug, such as a barbiturate, used to induce sleep.
3. Sleeping potions were some of the earliest drugs discovered, and sleep aids are still among the most widely used drugs today. The ancient Greeks and Egyptians used the extract of the opium poppy to induce sleep. The Greek god of sleep, Hypnos, was usually depicted holding a poppy flower. The juice of the poppy contains chemicals known as opiates, from which morphine and heroin are distilled. Ancient Greeks and Romans knew several other herbal sleep-inducers. The bark of mandrake, or mandragora, was used as a sleep aid, as were the seeds of an herb called henbane. The juice of lettuce was also used to induce sleep. As early as 300 b.c., Greek doctors were known to prescribe concoctions of these different plant derivatives. Similar prescriptions were also apparently known throughout the Arab world. Apothecaries of the Middle Ages in Europe stocked “spongia somnifera,” a sponge soaked in wine and various herbs. Other mixtures were known in England in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance as “drowsy syrups.” Plant-based sleep aids were all that were available up until the nineteenth century. The chemist Frederick Setumer synthesized opium in 1805, and other advances in sleep drugs followed by the middle of the century.
4. Most sleeping medications are meant to be taken for a short period of time, usually for two weeks to two months. When taken for a longer period of time, the effectiveness of the medications wear off. Therefore, dosages usually have to be increased in order for them to work. Some sleeping pills can cause a drugged effect the morning after taking them. These medications tend to have longer “half lives,” which means they stay in your system longer. Some medications have shorter half lives, and you do not feel the drugged effect in the morning after taking the medication.
5. The most common prescription sleeping pills, or hypnotics, are in the classes of drugs called benzodiazepines or benzodiazepine receptor agonists. Sleeping pills can have serious side effects if overused or abused.

S: 1. OED – (last access: 20 November 2018). 2. TERMIUM PLUS – (last access: 20 November 2018). 3. OE – (last access: 20 November 2018). 4. UCSF – (last access: 20 November 2018). 5. CC – access: 20 November 2018).


CR: contraceptive, drug, drug product, medication, narcotic (2).