a drug that subdues excitement and calms the subject without inducing sleep, though drowsiness may be produced

A sedative is a depressant that lowers excitement and irritability. Doctors use sedatives to prevent nervous patients from accidentally hurting themselves or the doctor. They are also used in tranquilizer guns.

Zolpidem sleeping pills
A number of alcoholic beverages, containing the mostly legal sedative ethanol

There are different kinds of sedatives:

  • Drugs that make people fall asleep.
  • Drugs that help people keep sleeping (not to wake up during the night).
  • Drugs that calm people down, without making them sleep.

Most sedatives act very slowly, usually in 10-15 minutes. Doctors must know a patient's weight and medical history in order give them the sedatives which are best for them.

People who have been given sedatives may seem dull, and sleepy. Since sedatives act on their ability to react, those who have been given such drugs should not do the following:

  • Operate any machines
  • Drive a car
  • Take other drugs (including alcohol; these may make the effect of the pill bigger and can lead to overdose)

The drugs are given in clinical settings to facilitate medical procedures that would require physical restraint in a conscious patient or otherwise be unfeasible. They are also used to tranquilize dangerous animals. If the animal is in a position where it can't hurt anyone, a slow-acting sedative will be used. If the animal is out-of-control, a fast-acting sedative will be used. Fast-acting sedatives usually take between 3-5 minutes to take effect. Tranquilizer darts are rarely used on humans because there is no way to know which sedative to use and how much to use without performing a pre-anesthetic exam on the patient beforehand. There are only two known cases of a person being intentionally tranquilized, and in both cases the person doing the tranquilizing knew their target's weight and medical history.



Sedatives usually should not be taken for a longer period of time, as there are problems:

  • Many sedatives cause addiction. Trying to stop taking the drug may cause withdrawal symptoms
  • If they are taken together with other drugs, this may change their effect.