Sleeping Pills: When to Take Them and When to Leave Them

Sleeping Pills: When to Take Them and When to Leave Them

If you’re one of the millions of people that have trouble falling asleep, no matter what you’ve tried to catch some Zs, chances are that you’ve turned to sleeping pills (or at least considered them), in order to get the sack time that you need to stay productive and healthy. But what are some of the effects of using medication to get to sleep? For many people, using an over the counter (OTC) or prescription sleep medication does nothing other than lull them into a deep, restorative rest that has them singing the praises of the pills they take. Yet others have found that imbibing in the use of medication such as Ambien, trazadone, or even a naturally occurring supplement like melatonin leaves them with some less-than-ideal side effects, which can range from anything as simple as daytime drowsiness, all the way up to the bizarre and scary, like sleep eating or even unexplained rage. So when should you consider adding medication to your sleep-inducing arsenal?

For Temporary Relief

Most doctors and sleep professionals suggest that you only turn to sleeping pills when you can’t get relief by any other means, and even then, it should only be on a temporary basis – think the night before having surgery or the few days after a major cause of stress.

After Gauging Your Sleep Hygiene

You shouldn’t excuse poor sleep behavior with a fix that comes out of a bottle. It might seem easier to believe that taking a sleep medication will help improve bad sleep habits, such as working right up until bedtime, leaving the TV on all night, or using electronics in bed, but the truth is that no pill will help you to get better sleep hygiene – or help you sleep better in spite of improper bedtime preparation.

When Nothing Else Seems to Help

If you find yourself having trouble sleeping, try some of the alternative and natural methods for getting to sleep, such as meditation, mindfulness relaxation exercises, a warm bath or shower, or even a massage from your significant other – before turning to something that comes out of a bottle, prescription or not.

After Educating Yourself on Your Choices

Both OTC and prescription sleep medication can be dangerous in high doses, so it all comes down to knowing everything you possibly can about the ingredients and side effects. Even supplements that occur naturally in the body and have been indicated as sleep inducers, such as melatonin and antihistamines like Benadryl, can cause issues by staying in your system for too long. Look for signs of trouble when taking any sleeping pills, such as getting enough sleep each night but still feeling tired, waking up frequently throughout the night, or suffering from headaches in the mornings.

When You’re Not Taking Anything Else

According to doctors, one of the biggest dangers of taking a prescription sleep medication comes from the concern of accidently overdosing. If you’re taking a medication like Ambien or trazadone, and you mix it will alcohol or another sedative, you can end up putting your very life at risk. Health professionals recommend that you don’t drink any alcohol within twenty-four hours of taking a sleeping pill, and that you check with your personal doctor about any other type of medication that you’re taking before starting a new regimen of sleep-inducers.
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