Americans filled more than 56 million prescriptions in 2008 for sleeping pills, and another $600 million was spent on over-the-counter sleep aids. Unfortunately, studies have shown that these medications may be causing more harm than good, and may not be giving you any benefit at all!
CBC News reported recently that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has amassed information for over 15 years indicating that over-the-counter sleep aids like Tylenol PM and Excedrin PM do not offer any significant benefit to patients. The article did not go into why it too 15 years for this research to come to light, but when it comes down to it, according to the report, “The data suggests the combination products are statistically better than a placebo but not by much.”
I guess it can be chalked up as yet another vibrant example of how industry research frequently amounts to little more than corporate wishes and good PR fodder.
A study from 2007 on sleeping pills, financed by the National Institutes of Health, found medication like Ambien, Lunesta, and Sonata shrank the average sleep time by just under 13 minutescompared to placebo pills. Not much of an improvement! Amazingly, the subjects actually thought they had slept up to an hour longer when taking the pills.
In fact, these pills can actually make it more difficult for you to get a good night’s rest naturally, and could greatly increase your risk of dementia!
Taking medication in any form is always risky, and most simply mask underlying problems that bring on the symptoms. They may alleviate the symptoms, but not the cause. In addition, some medication (like in sleeping pills) can be highly addictive, so when you want to quit you will suffer withdrawal — much worse than insomnia.
Other side effects from the use of sleeping medication include:
- Some become less effective in your system when taken longer than two weeks, and if you continue you will find yourself needing to take higher doses.
- Eating while you sleep problems — not just for you to grab a quick sandwich, but bizarre cravings like raw bacon and buttered cigarettes.
- There is the risk of falling asleep at the wheel if you take the pills and then decide to drive. Among the top 10 drugs found in the system of an impaired driver is the sleeping pill “Ambien,” according to some state toxicology labs.
- Elderly people run the higher risk of falls and injuries at night
- You could wake up feeling drowsy, even after the medication has worn off
You’re far better of finding safe and natural solutions that will actually address the underlying causes of your sleepless nights instead of just cover up the resulting symptoms.
Getting a good night’s sleep is as important for your body and your mind and memory as water, food and air. There are a few main things that you can do to unwind and de-stress (Stress is the main cause of lack of sleep). A Stanford University Medical School study found that from a moderate-intensity exercise program that lasted for 16 weeks subjects were able to get to asleep about 15 minutes earlier, and were able to about 45 minutes longer at night. Just don’t exercise too close to bedtime or it may keep you awake.
You can also wind down by learning meditation, sipping some herbal tea or taking a bubble bath (Yes, it is for men too!). Read a book, keep a journal or write something.
Make sure to keep your phone, computer and off when you are trying to unwind, and especially when you go to bed. No matter what anyone tells you, a television may get you to sleep but it won’t be restful. The lights can still be seen behind your eyelids, and even the slightest light (from the window or hall as well) will disrupt your brain’s production of melatonin and serotonin. The information you hear will make it hard for your brain to process the memories from the day that it needs to (not to mention the dreams you will have from what you are hearing from the set).
Being mentally healthy requires a good nights sleep — at least 6-8 hours per night. Without it your memory will be weak, your learning will be slow, and you will not be able to function enough to get that promotion or ace that test you have been studying for. If you find you are having trouble sleeping, and the tips here didn’t help, consult your doctor on other homeopathic treatments he may suggest. For no reason, however, should you resort to sleeping medications — they just don’t work!
Psyorg – Common drugs linked to cognitive impairment and possibly to increased risk of death: http://medicalxpress.com/news/2011-06-common-drugs-linked-cognitive-impairment.html