MedBytes – Sleep Aids
Do you need a sleeping pill?
- Some people have trouble falling asleep.
- Some have trouble staying asleep.
- Some feel like they are asleep before their head hits the pillow.
Which one are you?
The first two are both considered insomnia.
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Do you have any tricks up your sleeve if you suffer from insomnia?
When I have had trouble falling asleep due to my thoughts racing, something that has helped me let go and get some sleep is to keep a journal by my bed.
When I can’t sleep, I write down those things that are keeping me awake.
It helps me get it out of my head, through my hand, and onto paper, safely waiting for me to think about the next morning.
Which I never do, it seems.
Our brains still work on these things when we’re asleep.
Writing them down has just allowed me to trick my brain into letting go.
I have just put the thoughts in a safe place to allow the brain to relax and stop gripping on because it thinks I might forget.
Insomnia doesn’t always need a pill.
Think about other medicines you take. Do you take any:
- Stimulants, such as ADD medicines, caffeine, ginseng, and more?
- Decongestants, like Sudafed or Neo-Synephrine?
- Certain depression medicines like Prozac?
As a general rule, unless your doctor tells you otherwise, these stimulants should all be taken more in the morning or towards the early part of the day.
Do your best to eliminate or schedule these types of medicines in the morning, if it’s ok with your doctor.
Check with your pharmacist to find out if you are on any medicines that will potentially keep you from getting that good night’s rest.
Let them know of any supplements or herbs or natural products you’re taking, also.
Other things that can keep you up
Medical issues such as pain, restless legs, depression, sleep apnea, and anxiety can also keep you up or wake you up.
Make sure your doctor knows that you need medicines for these conditions.
If you’re already being treated and the medicine isn’t working, the doctor needs to know that, also.
If you are age 65 or older, prescription sleeping medicines may be doing more harm than good.
Medicines like Ambien, Lunesta, and Sonata (non-benzodiazepine sleeping medicines) have a rising abuse rate.
People tend to take a higher dose when they find the medicine not working for them, leading to increased side effects and ER visits.
Medicines called benzodiazepines (like Valium, Xanax, Restoril, Dalmane, Ativan) don’t have the specific hypnotic effect of non-benzodiazepines.
Except for a few of the benzodiazepines specifically approved originally for sleep, this class of medicines has more of a calming effect and they are normally used for anti-anxiety.
A couple are even used for seizures or as a muscle relaxant, also.
Both of these classes of sleep medicines are potentially not appropriate for those age 65 and older. The insomnia benefit seen is modest compared with the risk of falls, fractures, delirium, and car accidents while using them.
What can you do?
Practice good sleep hygiene. You may have heard some of the tips – don’t read in bed, use blue-blockers after sunset, don’t have a TV in your bedroom, or don’t look at electronics after sunset if you don’t have blue-blockers.
Ask your pharmacist if they have a handout about sleep hygiene for you.
This is in addition to the other items already mentioned that you can get treated for from your doctor.
As always, discuss this information with your doctor. The information found on this site is not to be substituted for medical advice from your own personal physician.
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