Everyone wants to sell you something to help you sleep at night. And, there are a lot of things that can help you sleep, but as in all things there can be consequences as well as benefits to what you choose.
Many people find sleep using prescription or over the counter sleeping pills, nutritional supplements, weighted blankets and behaviors such as meditation or cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia.
Your choice needs to take into account your health condition, the level of effectiveness you’re willing to accept, and side effects that you may have. Not everything works for everybody.
You want it to work for you not Joe blow at work. Also, if your sleep problem is ongoing, should you get you doctor involved?
What are pros and cons of sleeping pills?
Most people are looking for the quick fix. Time is short, life is busy already and they don’t want to add anything extra to their day if they can get away with it.
Sleeping pills are what you typically think about as the simple once and done now lets go to sleep.
“True” sleeping pills are a controlled substance and must be prescribed by your doctor after a proper diagnosis of your sleeping problem and individual health condition.
They work by affecting different processes in your brain that may quiet your mind or lower activity in certain areas to allow you to fall asleep and stay asleep without waking during the night.
There is a downside to prescription sleeping pills though. Many people experience grogginess the next morning and may feel lethargic or not back up to normal speed to start. A sort of hangover effect.
I you haven’t got 8 hours to sleep you should avoid taking them.
Do nutritional supplements help you sleep?
There are many claims for dietary supplements that help you sleep. While, there is documented evidence that they can have benefits to improve your sleep, understand that strength and effectiveness may vary.
These are not regulated by the food and drug administration the way drugs are.
The use of some dietary supplements to help you sleep have a more gradual effect as they build up in your system over time. So you may not see the full benefit until you have used it for a period of time.
Your individual results could vary based on the amount of active ingredients and amount used. It is recommended to check with your doctor before starting a supplement.
Some dietary supplements can interact with your prescription medications and some people with certain health conditions should not use certain supplements. You have to be aware that there are still risks and side effects to be considered.
The reason you may choose to try a supplement to help you sleep is that they typically do not have the morning after effects that sleeping pills do.
These supplements can come in many forms such as powders, pills, essential oils and more and may include things like melatonin which is a hormone your body produces naturally as a response to night and darkness.
Some forms are minerals such as magnesium, an essential trace element your body uses for many important functions including the ability to regulate processes that affect sleep.
Botanicals make up a large portion of sleep supplements and include many products you hear about and a few you may not know. Some popular examples include:
Do over the counter sleeping pills work?
Over the counter sleep aids which do not require a prescription are mainly antihistamines that have a sedative effect. They become less effective over time though because tolerance can build quickly. You may get relief to help you sleep at first but they are not a long term fix.
In addition, if you have certain medical conditions taking diphenhydramine or doxylamine is not recommended.
What else can help me sleep at night?
Weighted blankets began in the late 90’s. They work to calm you by creating deep pressure stimulation that feels like a firm hug.
Using a weighted blanket to help you sleep was not the first intent when they first came into use though.
They were originally used to help relieve anxiety in autistic children. Turns out that anxiety is a cause of insomnia as well, so people started trying them to improve their sleep.
Some people have also discovered that the pressure can help calm their restless legs to go to sleep at night.
Reviews in general are mixed though. People either rave about them or they hate them.
Behavioral methods to help you sleep
- Meditation or mindfulness for sleep – These methods help to ease anxieties and stresses that keep you awake by calming your mind. Self guided individuals have shown steady improvement in sleep quality practicing as little as 10 minutes per day before and after work after a two-week period.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) – This is a guided method of changing your behaviors and how you think about sleep. This can help with negative thoughts and worries that keep you awake while identifying and replacing bad habits to improve your sleep.
When you need to sleep at night, there really are some things that work. You have informed choices to make.
For some people finding the right solution may seem a little frustrating. It’s OK to ask for help too.
Your doctor can advise you best based on your own individual health conditions. Consult him or her anytime you have a concern. Some signs you should talk to your doctor include:
- daytime sleepiness that interferes with normal activites
- snoring or waking up gasping or out of breath
- not feeling refreshed upon waking
- can’t fall asleep and stay asleep on a regular basis
You don’t have to wait to get a good night’s sleep. Do it today and feel better.
The information in today’s post is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. When you have questions regarding your health you should seek the advice of your health care provider.