Top 10 REM and Non-REM Sleeping Disorders

REM and non-REM sleeping disorders

There are numerous sleeping disorders, and some are yet to be discovered. The main reason why people go into in-depth research, doctor’s appointments and spend quite a considerable amount of money is to find a long lasting and immediate solution. Sadly, some disorders do not have a remedy or a cause. In this article, we have in-depth, detailed information on sleep disorders, types, and treatments that could help lessen its effects.

What Is a Sleep Disorder?

Research and medical practitioners describe sleep disorders as any disturbance that affects an individual’s capability to either stay awake during the day or fall asleep at night. No specific age group has more chances of having sleep disorders because it affects all age groups from newborns. If you find yourself tossing and turning all through the night, or have trouble staying awake at daytime, it could be the sign of sleep problems. Studies suggest that almost 70 million Americans suffer from the above disorder and many are unaware of having one. The leading cause of this disorder is insufficient sleep. Any person who is not getting adequate sleep is at a higher risk of having this problem. Many studies have been done, and confirmed sleep is essential to our bodies, not only for physical but also for mental purposes.

5 Stages of Sleep

When we sleep, our bodies automatically go through a process that includes 5 stages of sleep. Stage 1-4 is known as Non-REM (Rapid Eye Movement) Sleep and Stage 5 REM Sleep. Stage 5 generates more brain activity, and a high percentage of dreaming takes place here. The five stages cycle numerous times throughout the whole night and are essential to rejuvenate and restore your body’s energy. If at one time or another, you find that there is an interruption during sleep, it might lead to disastrous effects. Some of these include memory loss, fatigue, poor coordination and concentration, life-threatening incidences. Remember that exhaustion and tiredness can cause high-risk medical conditions like depression, heart disease, and obesity.

Types of Sleep Disorders

There are over 100 kinds of sleep disorders. The most common is insomnia, which is where people find it difficult to sleep at night. Let us look at the most common sleep disorders widely known, medication and see what causes them.

Sudden Unexpected Nocturnal Death Syndrome

The condition is also referred to as sudden arrhythmic death syndrome. This condition has little to zero prior symptoms, and anyone can fall victim. Post-mortems show that a higher percentage of the sufferers had previously unknown heart ailments. This disorder was first discovered in the early 1970″s among the Hmong people living in Laos. Medical practitioners noted that healthy Hmong men were dying during sleep at an alarming rate. Because of this, mythology known as dab tsuam came about and people had the belief of a jealous hag-like old woman would sit on the men’s chest at night to ensure breathing stops. The overwhelming feeling is what triggered genetic heart defects later causing their deaths.

Sleep Paralysis

A person wakes up during REM sleep to discover that their body is in paralysis. This also occurs as one is falling asleep. This process/ action can last from a few seconds to several minutes and is often leads to hallucinations and panic attacks. Stress, depression and lack of sleep have all been linked to sleep paralysis but, there is no definite cause of the condition.

The condition occurs in healthy people in addition to people with narcolepsy or hereditary genetic changes. The condition affects 5 percent of people regularly but up to 50 % of the people experience the episodes once in a while.

There is no sure way for prevention with recommendations of not sleeping in the supine position as the most recommended way of prevention. Also as in most other sleeping disorders, having a regular sleeping schedule helps a lot.

REM Sleep Behavior Disorder

This REM parasomnia prevents an individual’s muscles from paralyzing during sleep. This means that sufferers will act out physically their dreams. They can talk, kick, punch and even walk about as though they are wide awake. Some also punch through the wall at night and end up with broken bones. The disorder occurs more in men (approximately 90%) as compared to women but also occurring in the elderly more.

In 2008, a father of two believed he was fighting off an intruder while asleep. Thomas, unfortunately, strangled his wife to death. Due to his long history of REM disorder and many character references, he was acquitted of his wife’s murder. Your body cycles through REM every 60 to 90 minutes with most of it occurring later in sleep. Anti-depressants and alcohol are the top cause of this problem.

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is very dangerous and causes people to stop the breathing cycle through the night, which might lead to death during sleep. Most of the research done on Americans show that approximately 18 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea.

There are two types of sleep apnea: Obstructive sleep apnea and Central Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition where the throat muscles relax, and the airways close while central sleep apnea is when the brain stops relaying messages to your breathing muscles, which cause the victim to forget to breathe.

There are numerous reasons why this disorder prevails. Some include high-blood pressure, smoking and excess weight. A recommendable treatment is the use of air pressure masks that help to regulate breathing. In addition, use of sedatives like Clonazepam and a high-dose of the hormone known as Melatonin can help decrease the effects of this disorder.

Exploding Head Syndrome

Exploding head syndrome is a condition where victims hear loud but imagined noises/sounds when they are on the verge of falling asleep or even waking up. Patients have described the sounds as sounding almost similar to doors slamming, bombs exploding or cars crashing. Muscle spasms and light flashes accompany some of the noises. The above condition is common, and 18% of individuals have an experience of it according to a research conducted by the European Sleep Research Society. What is certain is that the cause is a sudden neural action brought by sleep disruption like jet lag, voluntary lack of sleep or temporary insomnia.

Sexsomnia / Sleep sex

Sexomnia is a condition where patients engage in sexual activities like fondling and masturbation while entirely asleep, with no recollection of their actions and zero control over their body. There was a heated court case in the year 2014 when Mikael Halvarsson from Sweden who accidentally raped his roommate at that time. After character references, sleep studies and medical history the case was overturned as he was a victim of sexsomnia. One cannot fake this disorder as a study done at Case Medical Center in Cleveland because studies and medical history of the sufferer prove of its existence.


A person’s sleep-wake cycle is essential. If at any moment, disruptions come about, it can lead to unpleasant side-effects. Narcolepsy disrupts your brain’s capability of regulating the sleep-wake cycle. In some cases, someone experiences excessive sleeping at daytime, unnecessary disruptions during the night, poor concentration and memory loss problems. Furthermore, extreme narcoleptics are at a higher risk of sleep attacks because the unexpectedly fall asleep during mid-task. Also, other sufferers have cataplexy which is whereby strong emotions trigger loss of your muscle tone and leads to collapsion. Over 3 million individuals suffer from the above disorder.

Sleep-Related Eating Disorder

I know most of you have heard of people who love snacking at midnight which is commonly known as a midnight snack. Some people might confuse this disorder offers uncontrollable food cravings that make the affected to have no sense of control over their habits and never have a memory of even leaving their beds. The most common victims are middle-aged women. Junk foods and sugary snacks are the most binged-on items, but there are cases where people eat weird things like cat food, cigarette butts or salt sandwiches.

Kleine Levin Syndrome\Sleeping Beauty Syndrome

The above disorder affects teenage boys. A sufferer can sleep up to 23 hours in a day non-stop or even some sleep for days. When they wake up, they usually have increased sexual drives and hunger. One good thing about this disorder is that it occurs over a few years with a few months break in between the episodes. The cause is unknown until now although 2/3 of sufferers confirm they had viral infections before the disorder commenced. The symptoms reduce by the use of a mood stabilizer lithium.

Fatal Familial Insomnia

This disorder is one of the rarest affecting only 40 families globally. The sleeping disorder is caused by a rare genetic brain disease. The first process is struggling to sleep for a few months, weight loss and also panic attacks. Later on, as the disease progresses, victims fall into total physical and mental deterioration. The brain suddenly does not remember how to sleep which in some cases leads to death or comas. Carriers of these genes can pass the genes unknowingly to their offsprings because it manifests at child-bearing age.

Although there is no definite treatment for a sleeping behavior disorder, there are ways; one can reduce the chances of injuries. Some of these include moving the bed away from the window, moving lamps and other items away from the bed, working with your doctor to determine which type you have, medication reduces movement and extreme action. A patient should take it at the right time and prescribed amount. On the other hand, lifestyle changes can be a great way to deal with sleeping behavior disorder. Demanding lifestyle makes it harder for anyone to control the disorder. Ensure you reduce stress by doing friendly activities like cozying up on the couch, watching a movie, reading a book or even listening to soothing music. In addition, setting up and sticking to a regular sleep schedule can help.

Valerian root: A safe and effective herbal sleep aid?

Valerian root effectiveness and safety

Is Valerian root safe and effective sleeping aid?

Sleeplessness, stress and anxiety are major problems that many people in different parts of the world struggle to overcome. If you are in this category most probably, you have tried everything to get the quality of sleep you desire. With the sleeplessness becoming a common concern, there are different sleep aids that are brought into the market almost every day but do they all work? How can you know which is the best for your sleep? Normally, it is advisable to understand how a product works, its uses, as well as the expected sided effects before trying it. Herbal supplements for sleep aid have also found their way into the market. One such product is the valerian herbal supplement, which is now commonly used in combating stress, anxiety, and sleeplessness. Valerian is an all-natural remedy obtained from the roots of valerian plan and it is available different forms. How does it work to deal with insomnia, how effective and safe is valerian root?

For years, the valerian root has been incorporated in natural remedies. This can be traced back to the Romans and Greeks when the components of valerian plant were used in brewing medicinal tea. However, presently, valerian is available in dietary capsule or pill forms. In this article, we carry a comprehensive analysis of valerian root. Also we will explore its use in dealing with sleeplessness. Finally we will establish establish whether valerian root is safe and effective as a sleep aid?

How valerian root works

Valerian is an herb that is found in most parts of Asia, Europe, and North America. The roots are considered to have the medicinal elements. Although it is commonly used for combating insomnia, people with psychological stress and anxiety also use it. Understanding the principle behind the use of this plant can help you determine whether it is ideal for you. According to several clinical studies conducted to evaluate the efficient of valerian root in promoting sleep, it seemingly acts as a sedative to the brain. It stimulates the GABA receptor of the brain, which is considered a neurological gateway for the chemicals that induce sleep on an individual. The working of valerian is similar to how most other sleep aids containing benzodiazepines as well as those, which do not contain benzodiazepine, work in fighting lack of sleep. In spite of its popularity in combating insomnia, there is no concrete scientific proof on its neurological effects on the brain.

Use of valerian root as a sleep aid

Despite the fact that there are conflicting research on the use of valerian root as a sleep aid, a large number of the studies indicate that this product has the ability of reducing the amount time one takes to sleep significantly. Most studies show that taking valerian can reduce the fall-asleep time by between 15 and 20 minutes. In addition, it is considered a great supplement in the improvement of the quality of sleep.

Valerian sleep aid can be used in different forms including as valerian tea, pills or capsules, and tinctures. Though inconclusive, reports from the National Institute of Health have showed that the use of valerian, in any form, improves sleep latency and quality among people with mild insomnia.

While valerian can be great relief to your insomnia, it is important to ensure that you take it as expected. Do not just get the word from the internet that valerian root is good for combating sleeplessness and purge into it –it is important to consult a qualified practitioner and follow the dosage. It is only advisable swallow a whole piece of valerian capsule –do not open, break, chew, or crush it. In case you have a forthcoming surgery, it is recommendable to stop the intake of valerian root for about two weeks before the scheduled day of the surgery.

Effectiveness of Valerian root as a sleep aid

According to the U.S Food and Drug Administration, valerian root is ‘generally safe’. In addition, a research carried out in Portugal comprising of trials going over a span of 10 years noted that Valerian root is well tolerated and safe though it has benign and infrequent side effects.

In an interview, Dr. Dick Middleton, the chairperson of the British Herbal Medical Association pointed out that valerian is useful as a reliever of anxiety commonly known to cause insomnia. He also added that there are researches that have been carried out, which highlight the usefulness of the herb in improving sleep quality. Just like any other medicine, the doctor noted that valerian can cause side effects. Nevertheless, Middleton was quick to interject that side effects resulting from the intake of Valerian are significantly mild and rare.

For better results and low cases of side effects, Dr. Dick advised that Valerian is best taken on a regular basis for a maximum of two or four weeks. While there are no cases of harm reported following prolonged use of Valerian, it is important to consult with a physician in case you do not see any signs of improvement after taking for the recommended period.

Valerian side effects

Even though Valerian root has been used for years to combat sleeplessness, a number of people experience diverse side effects. For example, the and the National Institutes of Health pointed out the following as the common side effects experienced by people who take valerian root as a sleep aid:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Diarrhea/stomach upset
  • Itchy skin
  • The opposite effect – insomnia, excitement, and restlessness
  • Daytime sleepiness (in cases of larger doses)

Things to consider

While there are numerous studies that advocate for the use of Valerian in combating sleeplessness but reducing the amount of time you need to fall asleep as well as enhance the quality of your sleep, it is important to note that most of these studies have focused majorly on one species of valerian plan –the Valeriana officinalis. In some studies, there have been contrasting results about the efficiency of valerian as a sleep aid, which calls for carefulness.

Here are a few aspects to consider before takin valerian supplement for your sleeplessness:

  • Lifestyle habits:

There are concerns that a majority of the reported cases of lack of sleep are associated with individuals’ lifestyle habits. For example, people who take much caffeine late in the day are likely to take much time before falling into sleep. In other cases, lack of regular exercise, poor sleep schedule may affect your ability to sleep easily. In addition, you can consider adopting the cognitive behavioral therapy where you do not worry about failing to sleep and focus on positive thoughts.

  • Research how the product works:

Most product claims might not be true, which calls for careful investigation to understand how the product works. It is not advisable to believe on everything the marketing team of the product tells you –read widely and use objective, evidence-based researches on the claims of the products. A good place to find such information is sites such as the National Institutes of Health among others.

  • Occurrence of side effects:

Despite the fact that valerian is considered fairly safe, it is not exempted from side effects like sleeplessness, stomach upsets, dizziness, or even headaches. In addition, it is not advisable to take valerian if you are pregnant, have liver disease, or give children under 3 years of age.

  • Interactions with other drugs:

Valerian has a probability of increasing the how other sleep aids function. There are concerns that it increases the sedative effect of drugs in the class of depressants like narcotics, benzodiazepines and alcohol. In addition, it can cause interference to some medications.

  • Visit a doctor:

Before you can start your valerian dose, it is important to get expertise opinion and advice. Talking to a qualified physician is necessary to get a glimpse of what to expect after you start taking valerian, or even in determining whether it is necessary for your case. A doctor’s opinion is most needed especially when you are taking other supplements or medication because there might be possible interactions with other drugs which can be dangerous.

Is valerian root the solution for your insomnia?

Many people tend to ignore their lack of sleep, or disturbed sleep conditions and instead subscribe to all sorts of sleep aids. Insomnia, if persistent, is an indication of a serious problem like a psychological or medical condition, or even poor sleeping habits. As such, if you are having continuous insomnia, it is advisable to visit a qualified doctor to help you establish the main cause of the insomnia as well as the possible treatment plan. In case you start taking valerian root, make sure that you observe for side effects as well as other reactions that may occur and speak to a doctor should you see some unexpected changes. Otherwise, if the past researches are something to go by, valerian root is a safe and effective herbal sleep aid. However, just like any other medications, there will be those occasional after effects that might not go as expected but make sure that you do not assume anything. Seek medical interpretation as soon as you start experiencing any side effects after taking this herbal sleep aid.

How Much Melatonin Can You Take To Sleep Optimally

How Much Melatonin Can You Take To Sleep

Melatonin is an excellent sleeping supplement for insomnia. However, how much melatonin can you take every night? Does melatonin have a dosage? If one takes an overdose of melatonin, what happens? And does melatonin as a sleeping aid have any side effects?

How much melatonin can I take?

Melatonin as a sleeping supplement should be taken at least half (½) an hour before going to bed. The right dose is 0.3 to 5 mg tablet or capsule either alone in a combination every night. However, the lesser the amount of melatonin that is taken for insomnia the better for you. In most cases, melatonin is sold as an anti-oxidant.

In some supplements like in Lunar Sleep aid, it is used in combination with other supplements for optimal sleep. The combination of several supplements enables the product to use less amounts of melatonin and other supplements but leveraging on the combination for better effects.

What is melatonin?

Melatonin: How Much melatonin can I take?

How Much melatonin can you take?

Melatonin is a normal body hormone produced in the pineal gland. This gland which is positioned adjacently to the top of the middle of the human brain. It is normally pea sized. The hormone is very useful in regulating sleep-wakefulness cycle.

The brain therefore produces more melatonin during night time to enable the person to have optimal sleep. The gland produces melatonin depending on the amount of light we get every day. In this regard, the body start producing elevated levels of the hormone as the sun is setting and the amount reduces significantly once the sun rises. The amount of melatonin produced is also regulated by the body sleep-wake clock.

The melatonin used for treatment of insomnia is either derived from the amount produced by pineal gland or is synthetically made. Melatonin for the purpose of treatment is available in liquid, tablet, lozenges, creams and sublingual form. The melatonin supplements are used to increase the levels of the hormone in the blood for good sleep. The question is always, how much melatonin can you take to sleep well.

How long should I take melatonin for?

Melatonin is a natural hormone produced by the body. It is recommended for short term purposes. All studies have not found a reason why it should not be used in the long term. However, as in other sleeping supplements, long term use is not recommended.

At low doses of 0.3 mg to 2 mg, the hormone can be used for periods of up to 9 months. However, dependency on the drug for us to get sleep should never be ruled out. This is a situation where we only get a good sleep if we take melatonin supplements.

Increase in doses especially for other causes of lack of sleep means that the medication should be taken for a lesser time. For doses up to 12 mg, melatonin is recommended for short term use. The recommended period is up to 4 weeks.

Melatonin is excellent for most sleep disorders where one cannot get to sleep well. However in jet lag or work shift changes melatonin helps but not as effectively as in other sleeping disorders. It offers excellent results in delayed sleep phase syndrome, most cases of insomnia and in other mental problems leading to lack/ loss of sleep.

For the right use and how much melatonin can you take, I recommend that you see your doctor. A sleep physician always assesses the sleeping problem and also tests the amount of melatonin in the body to be able to recommend the right amount of melatonin for you to use.

Melatonin is however not recommended for pregnant women and nursing mothers not unless the benefits outweigh the potential effects to the baby. The hormone can be taken by these two cohorts only when advised by the doctor.

Can one overdose on melatonin? Can melatonin overdose kill?

There are side effects associated with an overdose of melatonin. However, with melatonin being a normal body hormone, there is no limit to the amount of melatonin above which an overdose occurs. This means that there is no approved safe dose for all people.

Melatonin however, should not be given to children without a prescription. This is because doses ranging even from 1 to 5 mg of melatonin can cause complications in children including seizures.

The common side effects of an overdose as quoted commonly include having a hangover feeling, hypothermia, drowsiness during the day and lower than normal libido. These side effects therefore means that the safe limit should be adhered to and a lower dose is recommended in most people.

Other effects seen in people who have overdosed on melatonin include:

  • Dizziness and disorientation
  • Confusion
  • Weakness
  • Headaches
  • Anxiety, depression and general irritability
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Joint pains
  • Tremor
  • Lethargy
  • Eye problems
  • Liver problems
  • Speech Impediment
  • Psychotic Thought Patterns

Forms in which melatonin is presented

Melatonin is available in several forms. It can be taken as a liquid, tablet, capsule or even sublingual. The different forms have different advantages and disadvantages:

Liquid melatonin

Liquid melatonin is available in the market today for faster onset of the sleep effects. The liquid has the following pros:

  • Is easily consumed as compared to the tablets or capsules.
  • Is absorbed faster to the blood stream hence reducing the time span between uptake and onset of the effects. This is because it is absorbed by the mouth mucosa thus travelling in a few minutes (3-10 minutes) to the brain.
  • It offers a soothing effect during uptake as compared to tablets or capsules.
  • Only a small amount of the liquid is required to offer the relief from insomnia. Only 1 to 4 drops of the 1mg dosage is taken.


  • It has more side effects because it is absorbed faster. This causes an abrupt increase of the hormone in the body hence increasing the likelihood of side effects.
  • It does not remain in the body for long since it is fully absorbed very fast. This fast absorption leads to faster elimination from the body too.

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The tablet/ capsule melatonin

This is the most common form of melatonin sold in the market today. The form has its advantages including:

  • It is the most preferred method of drugs uptake.
  • Its effects lasts for longer once they start.
  • They are portable.

Disadvantages of tablet/ capsule melatonin

  • Its effects takes longer to set in. This is because it takes 20 to 30 minutes for the capsule or tablet to be digested. It means that the melatonin is absorbed from the stomach onwards in the gut/ GIT.
  • To limit the amount of melatonin taken is a bit hard as a capsule or tablet is harder to consume in smaller quantities (it is not possible to break the capsule into smaller sizes).

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Melatonin is also available in sublingual form.

 Why should I take melatonin instead of the sleeping pills?

There are several reasons for you to use melatonin or melatonin natural supplements rather than use sleeping pills. These include:

  • Melatonin is non-addictive whereas the sleeping pills are very addictive leaving the users needing an increased dose of sleeping pills in order to sleep.
  • It is a natural supplement.
  • Melatonin acts by boosting the levels of melatonin produced by the body.
  • It does not have many associated side effects.

Why should I prefer sleeping pills as compared to using melatonin supplements?

  • Melatonin should sparingly be taken during the day to ensure you do not destabilize the normal body sleeping clock the sleep cycle. Sleeping pills can however be taken during the day.
  • Sleeping pills can be taken a few minutes before sleep whereas for maximum benefits of melatonin supplements, they have to be taken at least 30 minutes before sleeping.

Other uses of melatonin in the body

Melatonin is very effective in helping all people get relief from insomnia and other sleep deficiency disorders. It gives people sleep when taken at least 30 minutes before sleep.

In addition to treatment of insomnia and other sleep deficiency disorders, melatonin is very useful in the following body disorders:

  • Melatonin helps in the growth of bones.
  • It helps in menopause associated irregular sleep patterns
  • Alzheimer’s disease induced sleeping disorders
  • Bipolar disorder associated sleeping problems
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
  • Useful in managing chemotherapy and radiotherapy effects in people with cancer.
  • Depression and stress associated sleeping disorders
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome

Can melatonin be used in infants; what is the dose for infants and adults?

Melatonin in ChildrenAs prescribed to me by my physician and after consulting several sleep medicine doctors, melatonin should be taken in the least possible dose as possible. Taking the supplement at least half an hour before sleep to enable it to be absorbed and regulated in the body works well.

The dose however can be increased gradually to the level that offers good sleep. However a dose above 10 mg is never recommended although it is generally safe up to 30mg. The uptake of high doses of melatonin can disrupt the circadian rhythm hence making it harder to sleep.

The general problems treated with melatonin and their doses are as found below:

  • To help you fall asleep a dose of between 0.3 to 10 mg should be taken starting with the lowest dose possible.
  • For older adults treatment of insomnia a dose of 0.1 to 5 mg is generally enough to relieve the insomnia.
  • In people experiencing jet lag a dose of between 0.1 to 8 mg should be taken as proximal as possible to bed time.
  • For periodic limb movement induced sleeplessness or restless leg syndrome a dose of 3 mg should be used.

In children and infants the medication should only be taken as guided by the physician.

What are the side effects of melatonin supplements?

Melatonin is generally safe to use because it is produced normally in the body by the pineal glands. This means at the right dosage, melatonin is well tolerated. However some side effects especially with taking of high doses have been found.

The side effects associated melatonin vary from person to person. These side effects are majorly similar to the effects of overdose. It has also been associated with hypotension (lower blood pressure) and reduced estrogen production. Abdominal cramps are also seen in some individuals as well as sleep terrors. In addition some people have reported allergic reactions.

What drugs and other substances should not be taken with melatonin?

Melatonin has interactions with other drugs and substances. Drug interactions are when a drug is taken it amplifies or minimizes the effects of another drug hence either reducing the effectiveness or making it hazardous. That reaction varies from drug to drug and melatonin reacts with a few drugs.

Can you take melatonin with caffeine or alcohol?

Melatonin should not be taken with alcohol or caffeine. These two substances interfere with the sleep-wake cycle and thus reduce the normal production of melatonin in the body.

Can you take melatonin with birth control pills?

Birth control pills interact with melatonin production and thus their uptake simultaneously may cause the body to produce excess melatonin. The increased melatonin production and the supplements taken lead to having elevated levels of melatonin. This level might even be harmful.

Can you take melatonin with blood thinners?

Anti-coagulants such as warfarin if taken with melatonin can increase the risk of bleeding. Melatonin is also a blood thinner and incase of bleeding or bruises the effects are amplified.

Melatonin and other sedatives

Taking melatonin and other sedatives can cause excessive sleepiness. The sedatives including clonazepam, diazepam, lorazepam and others may lead you feeling groggy, disoriented and even confused.

Melatonin and corticosteroids

Melatonin should be avoided if an individual takes corticosteroids used for rheumatoid arthritis or lupus. The immunosuppressants taken for these conditions are contraindicated with melatonin. Sleeping well and adequately boosts the immune system and this reacts negatively to melatonin which works by reducing the immune responses. Therefore it is not recommended to take immunosuppressants with melatonin.

Other drugs that interact with melatonin include:

  • Antibiotics
  • Apirin
  • Diabetes medication including insulin
  • Drugs for narcotic pain
  • Stomach drugs including Prilosec (omeprazole), Prevacid (lansoprazole) and Zofran (ondansetron)
  • Hypertension or hypotension drugs.
  • Heart medications
  • Antipsychotics

In conclusion here is a summary guide for the uptake of melatonin in pregnant women, infants children, adults and older people.

  1. Melatonin should only be taken by pregnant women or lactating women if the benefits far outweigh the possible effects. This should be guided by a physician and checks should be done regularly to ascertain the health of the baby.
  2. How much melatonin can you take? Lower doses of melatonin should be taken and increase in dosage should be monitored to avoid side effects or overdose.
  3. The drug should be used in the short term where possible and up to 9 months of the medication can be taken if low doses are taken.
  4. Melatonin overdose is possible with general body problems. The uptake of high doses can interfere with the circadian sleep rhythm thus leading to dependency.
  5. Children and infants in most cases can not tolerate the drugs and if needed their doses should be as low as possible.
  6.  Melatonin interacts with several drugs and thus should be taken with caution or avoided all together when one is taking other medication. 
  7. Alcohol and caffeine affect the efficiency of melatonin and should be avoided when the supplements are taken.
  8. Melatonin can be used together with other supplements to provide a better quality sleep.

Sleeping pills: What I need to know before I use a Sleeping Pills

Can sleeping pills be used effectively?

You need enough sleep for the body to function effectively –everybody does. However, at times, getting sleep might be the hardest thing that you fight with at the wee hours of the night. Due to longer workdays you get to deal with over-packed schedules and the only remedy –more coffee, a lot of yawning and in the end, you get less sleep.

A majority of the people in this situation look for a solution in almost anything from getting a white-noise machine, new pillows and mattresses, to even sleeping coaches. A great number of them find solace in sleeping pills.

There are increasing concerns over the number of people using sleeping pills all over the world as a remedy to their sleeplessness. The Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of these pills in treatment problems associated with getting enough sleep. While such approvals indicate that the drugs really work, there are a whole lot of people who are misusing them leading to more risks than benefits. This article provides a comprehensive overview of everything that you need to know before you take a sleeping pill.

Sleeping pills: How they work

Misusing sleeping pills is considerably one of the risk factors to numerous and harmful side effects on many users. It is estimated that over half of the people using sleeping pills often use them in the wrong ways. This implies that they might be taking high doses as, using them alongside other supplements or drugs, which could be potentially harmful, or even taking them over a longer period than it is recommendable. Understanding how the pill works can help you take is appropriate.

Sleeping pills will make you sleep, but have you thought about how they work? A majority of the sleeping pills are categorized as sedative-hypnotics. Their functionality is based on their ability to influence the brain’s neurotransmitters. Nerves release these types of chemicals and they contribute to the communication among nerves. When you take sleeping pills, they increase the gamma-aminobutyric acid’s activity producing a drowsiness effect in your body hence, facilitating as well as maintaining sleep.

Are sleeping pills right for you?

When in desperation to sleep, the temptation comes to get relief from the medicine cabinet. While you may get the rest that you are looking for, something could be wrong if you find that you cannot sleep unless you are using sleeping aids. Perhaps you are staying late in the night viewing electronic screens or taking too much caffeine. In other cases, it could be a symptom of a psychological problem, or an underlying medical issue. Whatever the problem is, sleeping pills are not the cure –they are just aids to get you rest whenever you so much need it. In most cases, sleeping pills become addictive especially if you use them regularly, and are likely to worsen your insomnia case in the end.

This is not an implication that you should not use sleeping pills. It implies a lot of care when using the pills to avoid going overboard. Generally, sleeping aids and pills are quite effective if used for a short-term situation, and sparingly. For example, you could use them if you are travelling across time zones, or you are in the recovery process from a certain medical procedure. If you are to use such pills over a long period, it is important to make sure that it is not a frequent case since you make become dependent on them, and in the end, they tend to be intolerant.

Risks associated with sleeping pills

Just like any other medication, taking sleeping pills has significant side effects and risks. Any prescription sleeping pill that you will find in the market has their side effects. However, the intensity of the effects varies with respect to a few factors such as the absorption and excretion rate of the drug, the dosage, as well as the specific type of the drug.

The side effects that most people will experience after taking sleeping pills include:

  • Rebound insomnia
  • Unsteadiness
  • Dizziness
  • Lack of concentration
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Muscle aches
  • Headaches
  • Next day drowsiness

There are potential risks associated with sleeping pills especially if not taken as required. In older people, sleeping pill might cause hangover effect, which might be an impairment to balance and coordination into the following day. This effect is also felt when these drugs are taken according to the provided directions. A majority of the people who take sleeping pills do not have effective functioning the next day.

Other common risks of taking sleeping pills include:

  • Drug tolerance

Using sleeping pills for long may make your body tolerance to them. The implication is that you will need to take more for them to be effective. Taking more sleeping pills can cause many side effects and adverse impacts on your health.

  • You risk masking a potential medical problem

In some cases, people experience insomnia due to an underlying medical issue. However, if such is the case, and you continue taking sleeping pills, you are masking the problem and in the end, it can have a significant negative impact on your health.

  • Drug dependence

Getting used to taking sleeping aids can make it hard for you to sleep without taking them. If used frequently, they can addict you implying that you will find it impossible to stop taking them.

  • Interactions with other drugs

Sleeping pills can have a significant impact on the efficiency of other medications. In such a case, the side effects can be worse, especially if you are taking other sedatives or prescription painkillers.

  • Withdrawal symptoms

Making the decision to stop taking sleeping pills abruptly can lead to different and severe complications. Some people may experience conditions such as shaking and sweating, while others have constant nausea. In other cases, you can experience rebound insomnia.

How to use sleeping pills safely

Sleeping pills can have adverse impacts on your health especially of taken the wrong way. How then do you avoid the side effects and the associated risks of sleeping pills? Here are several tips for safer use of sleeping pills.

  • Avoid sedative drugs or alcohol while taking sleeping pills

Most people fancy the idea of mixing sedatives, alcohol, and sleeping pills with the hope that they will get maximum effect. However, it is not advisable to take these substances alongside sleeping pills. First, alcohol interferes with the quality of sleep and secondly, increases the activity of the sedatives making the sleeping pills ineffective. Combining such substances is not only dangerous but also fatal.

  • Use the lowest dosage

Sleeping pills work differently for different people. It is important to consult a physician before you start using these pills. In addition, stick to the lowest dosage that you have been given unless your physician advises otherwise. It is also important to monitor the effect that the medication has on you, and whether or not there are any side effects coming from it.

  • Do not use sleeping pills frequently

Sleeping pills are not a medication for everyday use. They are addictive hence, can have adverse impacts on your health especially if you use them on daily basis. Make sure that you only use sleeping pills for emergency cases only to reduce the adverse effects, as well as reduce the probability of being dependent on them.

  • Take sleeping pills when you want to rest

Sleeping pills have an instantaneous impact on some people. It is recommendable to take these pills when the only thing you want is to sleep. As such, do not engage in any other activity such as operating machinery or driving, after you take the pills.

  • Do not overdose

It might be tempting to add a dose in the middle of the night especially if you are not getting enough sleep but doing so can be dangerous. In addition, it increases the time that it takes the medication to be cleared from your system implying that you might be drowsy the following day.

What You Need To Know Before You Take A Sleeping Pill

In conclusion, it is evident that sleeplessness is a problem that is affecting a large number of people. Most people who find themselves in this kind of situation opt for sleeping pills. However, the lack of understanding of what sleeping pills are, how they work, the associated risks and side effects, and the bests plug many people into endless problems. It is important, therefore, to research widely before starting to use any sleeping aids. The knowledge from such research should help you determine whether sleeping pills are best for you or not, as well as learn how to take this medication in potentially safe ways.

Based on the information above, combating insomnia requires careful consideration of your sleep habits as well as your lifestyle. If, at all, you are going for the option of using sleeping pills for short causes, it is advisable to work on changing your bedtime behavior and your lifestyle –they are the only suitable options to ensure that the sleeping pills work best to give you the quality of sleep you want. In addition, work towards better environmental and behavioral changes as they are bound to give assure the efficiency of the pills provided you use them as recommended.

Lunar sleep aid is a natural way to ensure we get quality sleep every night. The sleeping aid has 4 main natural ingredients which work in synergy for quality sleep every night. Explore the benefits of Lunar sleep aid when you have insomnia by checking its benefits.

Sleep terrors Causes, Symptoms, Complications and Treatment

Sleep terrors causes, symptoms, complications and treatment

Sometimes, you are woken up at night panting and without breath feeling as if you have just completed a marathon but with no account of what happened. That is what sleep terrors do to us. The feeling of great apprehensive fear sometimes while screaming, crying, thrashing around and flailing while asleep is the definition of sleep terrors. The night terrors as they are also referred to often occur in a combination with sleepwalking.

These forms of parasomnia are quite disturbing. I remember an episode where my mom had to scream at my dad while he was having such an episode. My dad was sleep walking while threatening everyone while screaming that thieves had visited our home. The adrenaline rush could not let him see us as his kids but adversaries.

Almost 40 percent of children experience sleep terrors but in less adults do. In children these terrors are very frightening but should not concern you. This is because they always end by teenage years in most of the people. In adults however, most at time they may cause a safety concern for the individual or the family. In this case or in cases where the child or adult does not get enough sleep due to the sleep terrors then treatment will be required. Sleep terrors are a form of parasomnia (Experiences or behaviors that are not desirable during sleep).

Sleep terrors are common in people where a family member has had a history of sleep terrors or sleepwalking. It is also more common in female children as compared and males.

What are the symptoms of night terrors?

What is the difference between night terrors and nightmares? Most at times people confuse sleep terrors with nightmares. The nightmares are just mere bad dreams where most at times we can vividly remember the details. The nightmares occur during the dream stage of sleeping also called the REM sleep. This is mostly from 2.00am to 6.00am. The child after a nightmare is comforted by your presence when they wake up. Night terrors on the other hand, happen while we are still asleep and does not wake up. In the morning after the night terror, children have no account at all of the happenings while adults recall a very small percentage of the terror.

The terrors which in most times happen in the first half of our sleeping mostly taking place in the first third of our sleep. At times the sleep terror makes the individual to sleepwalk. The symptoms below occur during a night terror:

  • Start with a shout or loud scream.
  • Stare at an individual or space with wide open eyes mostly with dilated pupils.
  • Sit while looking frightened or extreme fear.
  • Breathe more heavily than normal while having a racing pulse or sweating.
  • Having an elevated blood pressure.
  • Kick or throw the hands rapidly.
  • Become deep asleep such that it would be very hard to wake them up but if woken up the person will look confused and inconsolable.
  • Can’t remember anything about the sleep terror even if they were walking or talking during the time.
  • Be more aggressive especially if they start sleepwalking and someone tries to impede their movement.

Do we need to see a doctor for sleep terrors?

Like it was mentioned above, sleep terrors are common in children with a little cause for concern. However, if either of the following occurs then we should see a doctor:

  • The episodes increase in frequency.
  • The sleep terrors wake up the individual or other members of the family.
  • Where the condition becomes a safety problem to themselves or other family members or in case of injury.
  • When an individual cannot concentrate during the day or is excessively sleepy.
  • If the issues do not cease at teenage years and continue during adulthood.

What causes sleep terrors?

Sleep terrors occur during the N3 sleep stage. This stage is the deepest non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep period mostly taking place at the transition between stage 3 and stage 4 of sleep. Because of this the condition is an arousal disorder. Another NREM sleep disorder is sleepwalking which happens mostly together with night terrors. The night terrors are thus a result of so many factors including:

  • Fatigue when going to sleep.
  • Having moments of sleep deprivation
  • A person being stressed
  • Jet lag and other forms of sleep schedule changes. This might be due to travel or work schedules interruption the regular sleeping patterns.
  • Fever and other diseases like malaria.

Other sleep and behaviors that alter sleeping can also result to sleep terrors including:

  • Sleep apneas and other abnormal breathing patterns during sleep.
  • Medications that affect the brain including some sleeping pills
  • Restless leg syndrome.
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Excessive use of alcohol commonly in adults.

What are the complications of night terrors?

  • Being so sleepy during the day. This is a major complication which may be caused by sleep terrors. The daytime sleepiness affects concentration at school or at work. This leads to poor performance at our daily tasks.
  • Having a disturbed sleep. Most at times, most people experience a disturbed sleep as a result of night terrors. People are always scared to sleep if the night will produce the sleep terrors.
  • Being the laughing stock from family and friends. Most at times, when we experience sleep terrors people talk about them. This is quite embarrassing for us in the midst of our loved ones like spouses, family or friends. I remember us talking about the things our dad experienced.
  • Injury to ourselves or a neighbor. When one experiences night terrors, it is sometimes accompanied by sleepwalking. Because the walking takes place sub-consciously, it may lead to accidents. Also one can injure a nearby person if they try to restrain the sleepwalking person.

How can we diagnose sleep terrors?

In diagnosing sleep terrors the doctor reviews the patient’s medical history and symptoms by asking the noting the following before making any diagnosis:

  • The period that the sleep terrors have been happening.
  • Frequency of the sleep terrors.
  • If the person has had a sleeping problem in the past.
  • If there is a family history of members suffering from sleep disorders including sleep terrors.

Armed with the explanations above the doctor might use any or a combination of the following methods to evaluate the sleep terrors:

  • Physical exam.

A physical exam is a good way to examine your body for any conditions that might be the cause of sleep terrors. The examination checks the body to check the following things that affect our sleeping:

  1. Breathing problems. Breathing problems is one of the causes of sleep terrors. If there is a problem with our breathing pathways then that is very important in the diagnosis.
  2. Being overweight is a major contributor to obstructive sleep apnea which can lead to night terrors. The weigh is thus checked to rule out its effects on the individual.
  3. Heart problems. Heart conditions affect the flow of oxygen to the brain sometimes leading to night terrors. The heart is therefore examined to rule out its contribution to the sleep terrors.
  4. Other body systems and parts are also examined.

Polysomnography is a nocturnal sleep study tests that examine how the person sleeps at night while at a sleep clinic. The sleep study analyses the following functions as we sleep:

  1. Brain activity
  2. Heart function
  3. Breathing rates and volume
  4. Eye movement
  5. Snoring sounds
  6. Muscles/ skeletal movement.

The two while combined with the discussion of symptoms with you or your dependent is very useful in diagnosing sleep terrors.

What is the treatment for sleep terrors?

Sleep terrors causes, symptoms, complications and treatmentIn children or if the sleep terrors happens once in a while, treatment is not necessary. However, treatment should be sought for the following instances:

  • For people who injure themselves or other family members during the sleep terror or also where observations show a potential to injure oneself or others.
  • In instances where sleep terror causes disruption of the lives and sleeping of other people who sleep near or with the individual. These may include immediate family, friends or spouses.
  • When sleep terrors frequently disrupts the sleeping of the individual experiencing the night terrors. This is because such disruptions causes an individual to suffer loss of attention during the day or is very sleepy.
  • If the sleep terrors causes the individual or family member to be embarrassed in one way or another.
  • If the frequency of the sleep terrors has increased or persists after teenage years.

The treatment options available work to improve safety and take care of the triggers/ causes. They include:

  • Treating the causative underlying condition. In some cases the sleep terrors are caused by conditions like obstructive sleep apnea. This sleep disorder and other medical and mental conditions can be treated to reduce instances of sleep terrors.
  • Managing stress. As we discussed above, stress or anxiety may be the cause of sleep terrors. When this problem is addressed then the sleep terrors reduce or are cured altogether. Stress management also helps in treating insomnia and other sleeping disorders.
  • Use of medication. In young ones, medications are rarely used to manage night terrors. It is also not recommended in most of the cases. If absolutely necessary, some antidepressants or benzodiazepines are used effectively for the condition.
  • Getting and anticipatory awakening. This works well to make sure that he individual does not go into N3 sleep where sleep terrors occur. The individual is awakened 15 minutes before the sleep terrors start and then stay awake for a few minutes before sleeping again.

What are the Simple night terror solutions that can be used at home?

In instances where a member of our family experiences sleep terrors, there are several ways that we can manage it. These ways are simple and effective in most cases for children and adults. They include:

  • Getting enough sleep every night. In most cases, fatigue is a major cause of sleep terrors. To get enough sleep regularly will work in managing sleep terrors.
  • Regular and relaxing bedtime routine. Having a relaxing routine such as listening to insomnia music, reading books, yoga, meditation or taking a warm bath goes a long way to get a relaxed sleep. This prevents episodes of sleep terrors.
  • Making the bedroom comfortable for sleeping. This is possible by making the bedroom clean from allergens, making it cool and quiet for a good night sleep.
  • Handling stress. Sometimes anxiety and stress may be the cause of sleep terrors. Managing stress by the several recommended methods helps. These methods include handling the urgent and important tasks first, making a to-do list, regular exercise, meditation and others.
  • Make a recording of the night terror patterns. This can be done by a parent to a child having frequent night terrors. The timings the child experiences the night terrors can be recorded relative to the sleeping time. If a pattern is established, then anticipatory awakening might be used to help the child.
  • Comforting the person experiencing night terrors. Trying to awaken a person experiencing a sleep terror impeding them causes the individual to be more aggressive. However, the individual can be comforted using cuddles or soft massage while letting the episode to pass.
  • Removing anything that can cause injury to a person. The main problem with a person who experiences sleep terrors is injury to themselves or to people sleeping near them. To prevent these people from injury one might try to avowing bunk beds, ensure all doors and windows are locked, blocking any stairways in the house when sleeping and making sure all electrical cords are kept in safe place.