Look into any pharmacy and it’s clear: there are more sleep aids available today than ever before in history.
Americans want their sleep and are willing to go to great lengths for it.
Unfortunately, we’ve become accustomed to taking drugs to solve our sleep problem without really looking at the long-term consequences.
Over-the-counter and prescription sleep aids can be dangerous and they all cause side effects.
These work by causing drowsiness, and can be helpful short term.
Yet, be aware these drugs cause side effects like dizziness; poor coordination; dry mouth, throat, and nose; and stomach problems.
Furthermore, long-term use can create a tolerance effect: The more you use them, the more you need them.
Read labels first, and remember antihistamine sleep aids should not be combined with alcohol or if you’re planning to drive.
These work through strong tranquilizing effects. While effective, these drugs are known to be extremely addictive, and can lead to other problems like memory loss and poor focus.
If overused or abused, sedative drugs can be dangerous, even deadly.
In addition, they should not be combined with alcohol or other drugs. Unfortunately, this is still a common practice today in spite of the risks!
Newer prescription sleep aids have more disturbing side effects. Hypnotic sleep aids affect brain chemistry to help you fall asleep fast.
These sleep aids can greatly impair your thinking and reactions.
Worse, it’s been discovered that people taking hypnotic drugs sometimes engage in activities like driving, eating, or intercourse before they are fully awake, and have no recollection of it the next day.
Driving on hypnotic sleep aids is very dangerous, and usually occur in people who are also drinking alcohol.
Like sedative drugs, hypnotic sleep aids can be addictive, and should be used very carefully for a limited amount of time, if at all.
If you’re dealing with a sleep problem, start by asking yourself why you can’t sleep. The need for sleep is at the most basic part of us.
If your sleep is chronically disturbed, there is a reason for it. A drug approach is only a band aid for your symptoms and your sleep issue will likely persist once the drug is discontinued.
Are you burned out, suffering from depression or anxiety, or under a lot of stress? Stress, anxiety, and depression count for about half of all insomnia cases.
Are your sugar levels imbalanced or are you drinking too much caffeine? Take another look at your diet. Too much sugar and caffeine can keep you up at night (Just like a child on Halloween).
Are you suffering from indigestion, allergies, or sleep apnea? Acid reflux, allergies, and sleep apnea are common causes of interrupted sleep.
Are you going through hormonal changes? Menopausal hot flashes and night sweats are a huge factor for poor sleep in older women. For women of reproductive age, changes from pregnancy are a frequent cause of interrupted sleep.
Are you dealing with pain from an injury, arthritis, or an illness?Being in pain definitely sabotages sleep.
Addressing the root cause of a sleep concern provides a long-term solution, and is much safer and healthier over the long term.
We have a wealth of resources available to help you get the sleep you need, whatever your issue may be.
As an herbalist, I turn to the plant world for solutions for better sleep. Insomnia responds well to lifestyle changes, whole herbs, and relaxation techniques.
My favorite herbs for insomnia are passionflower and skullcap. These herbs are nervines that fight stress, have sedative effects, and can be used long or short term without causing dependence.
In addition, committing to a yoga or meditation practice can help insomnia by encouraging a calmer state of mind.
Finally, just cutting back on sugar and caffeine can normalize sleep for many Americans who over-stimulate their minds and bodies on a daily basis.