Prescription medications, such as the Z-drugs, or non-benzodiazepine hypnotics, are commonly prescribed for elderly insomnia patients, reports Sleepdex. These include zolpidem, zalepelon and eszolpidem. However, the American Geriatric Society does not recommend Z-drugs to be used for longer than 90 days due to their addictive potential.
Benzodiazepines, such as diazepam, clonazepam and lorazepam, are not recommended to treat insomnia in the elderly due to the increased risk of cognitive and psychomotor impairments, falls, injuries and automobile accidents, notes Medscape. The safest medications are melatonin, an over-the-counter supplement, and its chemical analog ramelteon, which is sold under the brand name Rozerem. These two compounds lack the addictive potential of benzodiazepines and Z-drugs and do not produce as many side effects, according to Sleepdex. The antihistamines diphenhydramine and doxylamine are also sold over the counter.