What Everyone Should Know About Sleeping Pills
Sleeping pills are great. Sleep is one of the most important things we do during our day and sleeping pills allow those who are deprived of it to catch a few important z’s. So many people are relying on sleeping pills these days that the pharmaceutical industry in the United States from 2006 to 2010 saw an increase of 23 %, generating around $2 billion in sales.
Those who are regularly having difficulty falling or staying asleep should make an appointment with their doctor as it may be insomnia. There are several treatments available, but the cause of the insomnia is what dictates what it will be. Sometimes there’s an underlying sleep disorder or medical/psychological issue to be found and treated, which is much more effective than just treating insomnia itself. However, learned behavioral changes through cognitive behavioral therapy is generally the best treatment for persistent insomnia.
Exercising regularly, avoiding caffeine, lessening alcohol intake, eliminating daytime naps, keeping stress in check, and sleeping on a regular schedule are likely to help and doesn’t cost you anything to start. You’re more in control of your health than you think you are.
Let us start by saying: not everyone should be taking sleeping pills and they shouldn’t be taken lightly. Sleep aids are for the chronically sleep-deprived, such as insomniacs, and only to be taken temporarily to relieve symptoms of sleeplessness. Sleeping pills are not meant to be taken long-term, unless you have a prescription from your doctor, and even then, it’s still risky.
Everyone in America probably has a strange story either about themselves or a friend who was taking a sleeping pill and hallucinated or did everyday things without memory of it. The side effects of various sleep aids vary widely, but the common ones are:
• Gastrointestinal problems, like nausea and diarrhea
• Dizziness, lightheadedness
• Prolonged drowsiness, which occurs more so with drugs that help one stay asleep
• Sleep behaviors, such as sleep-driving and sleep-eating
• Severe allergic reactions
• Daytime memory and performance problems
Patients who were prescribed at least 130 doses a year have a 35% greater risk for cancer than those who do not take the medication.
Some advice on taking sleeping pills safely and effectively:
• Lower the fat content of your food – a high-fat diet will reduce the effectiveness of the sleeping pills
• Be evaluated by a doctor. Often, they’ll be able to find specific causes for the insomnia and will also have some non drug options available. If you’re taking sleeping pills for more than a couple of weeks, schedule follow-up exams with your doctor every six months.
• This cannot be stressed enough – DO NOT TAKE A SLEEPING PILL UNLESS YOU’RE GOING TO BED. Sleeping pills make you less aware of what you’re doing, increase the chances for nighttime falls and other injuries as well as “dreaming while awake.”
• Take the first dose the night before you can sleep in. Until you’ve taken the drug, you don’t know how it will affect you, and it’s better to not be groggy on a work day.
• Never mix alcohol and sleeping pills. Even a small amount of alcohol while on sleeping pills increases its effects and can make one confused, faint, or dizzy.
• Take your time when quitting. Many sleep aids will cause withdrawal symptoms when you’re taken off of them and require to be stopped gradually. There may also be some short-term rebound insomnia for a while after cessation of medication.
• Be careful of side effects. If you’re sleepy or dizzy or confused during the day, talk to your doctor about changing your dose or weaning yourself off the pills.