Every once in a while most of us fail to get sleep early, or can’t stay asleep or even wake up too early. Insomnia is a problem for more than a third of the population in the world today. It has been the same since time immemorial where when troubled one could not find sleep. Chronic insomnia is a sleeping disorder that really lowers the quality of life. Insomnia has been associated with the pressures of life that we are living in today. Sleeping pills are an efficient and easy way to get sleep, however as we will explore below the chances of getting into a vicious cycle of insomnia and sleeping pills.
Insomnia is associated with anxiety, pain, depression, disturbing thoughts and many other things. These causes of insomnia most at time are chronic and feed also from insomnia. For example, anxiety causes sleep deprivation and sleep deprivation causes anxiety. The same can be said about pain. Lack of sleep makes a person more sensitive to pain.
The management of chronic insomnia is one of the biggest wins we should celebrate. Chronic insomnia is very debilitating. Actually lack of sleep can kill in so many ways if not managed.
The Risks of Taking Sleeping Pills
Sleeping pills in the market are the most common over the counter medication used for insomnia. These pills have a habit forming tendency where some people cannot sleep not unless they take the sleeping pills. This cycle of dependency becomes even worse where one becomes dependent on them to the point of them not working. The pills dose is thus increased with time in order to get sleep thus making the vicious cycle of lack of sleep and increase in dosage. In some instances use of sleeping pills has been associated with death of the users. The OTC sleeping pills also makes a person more moody and cloud the thinking.
To manage insomnia experts like Dr. Brian Murray of Sunnybrook health Sciences Centre requests people to take sleeping pills rarely and when absolutely necessary. This is because sleeping pills do not offer the restful and restorative normal sleep.
Natural methods that Work to Improve Sleep and Health
Most experts recommend the following in the management of insomnia:
These supplements contain Magnesium, melatonin, hydroxytryptopan, L-ornithine or valerian root. Such supplement work excellently in the cure of insomnia and are non-addictive. A combination of the four supplements in lunar sleep aid makes it the best sleeping aid in the market today.
Use of essential oils like chamomile and lavender.
These essential oils help the body to relax and lower anxiety for a good sleep. Chamomile can be taken as a drink while lavender most at times is used either in a light massage or as an incense like substance for smelling.
Change of diet to eliminate instances of lack of sleep.
The meals taken in the evening should be either taken a few hours before sleeping or should contain less of carbohydrates and stimulants. Carbohydrates produce a lot of heat while being digested thus making it uncomfortable to sleep. Stimulants like caffeine found in coffee or tea excite the brain and makes it more alert making it harder to sleep. The worst stimulant to take is khat (Cathinone) which makes people to have super excitements and building of castles in the air.
Management of anxiety and overexcitement before sleeping.
This is accomplished by trying to relax before sleeping and minimizing the use of blue light emitting devices. Other than the use of lavender and chamomile to relax, one can have a short routine before sleeping where yoga can be done or listening to insomnia music. However one of the best ways to relax is noting down any serious thoughts flowing through our brains just before sleeping or if we wake up at night. Once these ideas are noted down, the brain is quite sure that they will not be forgotten and thus relaxes. Blue light emitting devices like Television sets, Computers, Tablets, Laptops, phones and video games excite the brain and thus keep us from sleeping. Thus these devices should be used sparingly just before sleeping.
Exercises during the day and keeping the bedroom cool
Exercises especially if done in the morning or early evening have two ways of making us sleep better. It is noted that people who do not exercises suffer the greatest risk of sleep apnea. The exercises help in getting more and quality sleep. Exercises also help to lower anxiety and thus helping us in getting a good night sleep. At least 30 minutes of exercise per day is enough to give us that sleeping boost.
Keeping the bedroom cool is another way of helping us get a good night sleep. The bedroom temperatures when significantly lower than our body temperatures helps in reducing the time spent tossing and turning in bed before getting sleep.
Reducing the intake of alcohol.
Most at times, people think that alcohol helps them sleep. However, this cannot be further from the truth. Alcohol yes helps people to sleep faster but does not help in keeping the person asleep. When one has consumed alcohol, there is poor transition from one stage of sleep to the next. As polysomnography has shown, people who consume alcohol are more likely to experience sleep apneas and waking up at night as compared to people who have not. Also the urge to pee is one of the most disturbing things for sleep.
Having fewer naps if it is necessary.
Taking a nap during the day almost guarantees that sometime during sleeping we will experience less sleep. It also affects the flow of sleep from one stage to the other as physicians have noted. Thus naps should be taken when absolutely necessary.
Making a to do list and prioritizing on the important duties
While this seems to be a very easy task that we can do any time, having a to do list is one of the best ways to fall asleep and stay asleep. A to do list helps us to do the things that really matter and defer the things that are either not important or urgent. At our work places, schools or at home, if the most important or urgent chores have not been done, it is tantamount to stress and anxiety and thus giving us a sleepless night.
Potential Side Effects of Prescription Sleep Drugs
Prescription sleep drugs are a good way to sleep once or twice when in a crisis. However, these drugs since they don’t offer natural sleeping patterns should not be used in the long term. The prescription sleep drugs have the following side effects:
Prescription sleep drugs are addictive.
Most at times when one starts using sleeping pills, they take them to cure one or two sleepless nights. However, the challenge with the pills is that once you pop in one or two for a good night sleep, then the following day the body will demand the same for you to sleep. This forms the vicious cycle of sleeping pills and insomnia. Withdrawal leads to sleeplessness. In most at times, when one starts using sleeping pills, after some times the pills don’t work and thus the dosage has to be increased. If this continues, with time one can get depressed breathing while sleeping sometimes leading to death.
Getting a burning/ tingling feeling in the arms, legs, feet or hands.
This is a very common sensation that occurs with frequent use of sleeping pill and especially over a period of time. These side effects are very irritating when they happen and leave us feeling unsettled.
Appetite changes and constipation/ diarrhea.
The gastro-intestinal tract (gut) is affected greatly by the use of sleeping pills. The sleeping pills may erode the gut lining with continued use and especially of high doses leading to constipation or diarrhea and subsequent loss of appetite.
Dizziness and loss of balance.
Sleeping pills help us to sleep. However, this sleep is dependent on the pills. And secondly the sleep is not natural and thus does not follow the natural stages of sleep. Taking of sleeping pills often leads to dizziness and loss of balance. This is also caused by interference of the workings of brain chemicals that affect sleep, balance and wakefulness.
Drowsiness during the day.
In most times, sleeping pills have an after sleeping side effect. Drowsiness and dizziness are the most common sleep associated side effects. Drowsiness occurs because one does not sleep though the stages of a natural good night sleep. This causes the body to be imbalanced and thus drowsiness.
Having a dry throat or mouth.
This is a common side effect when sleeping pills are taken for a long time. A dry throat is most a time a precursor for dry cough. The sleeping pills affect the normal workings of the body including production of mucus and saliva leading to dryness of the mouth and throat.
Sleeping pills also can give one nightmares.
Bad dreams at night are a common feature in people who have to take a pill in order to sleep. This is because the brain does not experience a truly normal and natural restful sleep. The use of sleeping pills to sleep thus causes nightmares in some people.
When should you use sleeping pills before bed?
Sleeping pills like Ambien, Lunesta, Sonata, Rozerem, and Halcion are great products meant to help you sleep. However they should be taken when needed and not daily or very frequently. This mostly is in periods of great pain, anxiety, depression or acute insomnia. Over the county (OTC) sleeping pills are available in most markets today and misuse of the pills is a common problem. Our recommendation is the pills should be taken once in a while and not every day to prevent us from falling into the vicious cycle of insomnia and sleeping pills.
Also it should be noted that sleeping pills should be taken if one will have enough time to sleep. The enough time in this case means 7 hours or more of sleeping time. This enables the body to utilize all the chemicals contained in the pill and also reduce day time dizziness, drowsiness and other side effects.