How To Avoid Sleeping Pills
Sleeping pills are not right for everyone. They can interact with other drugs. If you are pregnant, they may harm your unborn baby.
You may also be concerned about the potential for addiction. Or, you may dislike the side effects.
Fortunately, there are other ways to manage insomnia. You may find it helpful to simply change your sleep habits.
Start by keeping a regular bedtime and wake time. This will help reinforce your natural circadian rhythm.
Avoid naps during the day. Naps can reduce your bodys natural desire for sleep.
It can also help to reduce the time you spend awake in bed. This is called stimulus control. Use your bed only for sex and sleep. If you can’t sleep, get out of bed and do something else until you feel sleepy.
Other alternatives for treating insomnia include:
- Biofeedback, a therapy that uses sensors to measure your body’s functions
- Aromatherapy, a form of sleep therapy that uses scents
- Guided imagery, a relaxation technique
- Progressive muscle relaxation
A psychologist may also be able to help. Therapy can help you learn to manage any stress and negative feelings associated with insomnia.
What Should I Do If I Experience Side Effects
If you notice severe or dangerous side effects, consult your doctor immediately.
If you notice more mild side effects, you should still speak to your doctor as soon as possible. They may be able to suggest a lower dose, a different medication, or a plan for slowly weaning off the medication.
Know that rebound insomnia can occur when you stop using prescription sleep aids, especially if you stop cold-turkey. It can also happen as youre gradually lowering your dosage. Rebound insomnia can feel even more frustrating than your original insomnia, as you may experience vivid dreams, nightmares, and anxiety. If you experience this, talk to your doctor. They may suggest lowering your dose more gradually.
Q& a: Pcps On Front Lines In Insomnia Recognition Care
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In the United States, 30% to 35% of adults experience brief symptoms of insomnia and 10% of adults have a chronic insomnia disorder, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
Studies have shown that insomnia is linked to a variety of adverse health outcomes, including type 2 diabetes, CVD, kidney disfunction, depression and anxiety.
In recognition of Insomnia Awareness Night on Monday, June 22, Healio Primary Care spoke with Jennifer L. Martin, PhD, FAASM, professor of medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and a member of the board of directors of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, to learn more about what primary care physicians can do for patients with insomnia.
Q: What role do PCPs play in insomnia care?
Q: What treatments should PCPs consider for patients with chronic insomnia?
Q: When should PCPs refer patients with insomnia to a sleep specialist?
Q: Once patients are diagnosed with insomnia, what other conditions should PCPs watch for?
Q: How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted insomnia in the U.S.?
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Your Primary Care Physician May Or May Not Manage Sleep Issues
The primary care physician is usually considered a generalist who will refer patients with specific medical conditions out to specialist for disease management however, many of these doctors are now managing many medical conditions, such as diabetes and hypertension themselves without referring to a specialist. This also applies to sleep.
Some physicians will manage the sleep issues of their patients. Some doctors will screen all of their new patients for sleep issues and incorporate sleep assessments into their new patient intake forms . This doctor will ask how your sleeping. Better yet, she may ask your bed partner how youre sleeping. Are you snoring? Gasping for air at night? Do you stop breathing during the night? These are all signs of sleep disorder. This doctor will then order a sleep study . After your sleep study, she will receive the results and contact you to discuss next steps. If you have a sleep disorder like sleep apnea, this may include ordering CPAP therapy to treat your disease .
With this type of doctor, you wont need to see a specialist. Its worth asking your primary care physicians office staff if he or she manages sleep disorders. If not, you may wish to ask for a referral to a specialist or find one on your own .
Now well talk about which specialists will manage sleep issues.
Melatonin Receptor Agonist Hypnotic Sleeping Pills
Ramelteon is the newest type of sleep medication and works by mimicking the sleep regulation hormone melatonin. It has little risk of physical dependency but still has side effects. It is used for sleep onset problems and is not effective for problems regarding staying asleep.
Ramelteons most common side effect is dizziness. It may also worsen symptoms of depression and should not be used by those with severe liver damage.
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What If I Am Already Taking A Sleeping Tablet Regularly
For various reasons, some people have become used to taking a benzodiazepine or Z drug sleeping tablet every night. As a rule, if you are taking one of these sleeping tablets each night, you should consider reducing or stopping them. However, in some people, problems of tolerance or dependence mean that it can be difficult to stop the tablet suddenly.
If you want to reduce or stop benzodiazepine or Z drug sleeping tablets, it is best to consult a doctor or nurse for advice. The sort of advice may include the following:
- Do it gradually and cut the dose down a little at a time. A switch to a different benzodiazepine may be advised. This is because it is easier to reduce the dose of diazepam gradually than it is with other benzodiazepines or Z drugs.
- It is best to wait until any life crisis has passed and your level of stress is as low as can be.
- Consider stopping the tablets whilst on holiday, when you have less pressure from work, family, etc.
- You are likely to have a period of worse sleep when you stop the tablets. Try to anticipate and accept this.
- Advice on coping strategies, and tips on how to improve your sleep pattern naturally.
How Do Prescription Sleep Aids Work
When it comes to the prescribed sleeping pills, their way of working can be a bit different than the over the counter sleep medicines. This is because the prescribed sleeping pills are specifically created to help the user fall asleep while the over the counter sleeping pills are used for something else and generally produce drowsiness as a side effect.
So the way prescription sleep aids work is by targeting the GABA receptors that are present in the brain. These GABA receptors have the duty of controlling the level of relaxation and alertness of your body.
So the selective GABA medications which are the prescribed sleeping pills, target the certain type of the GABA receptors rather than all of them. So they target the ones that are believed to have more control over promoting sleep.
However, these selective GABA sleeping pills can have some potential side effects that are given below:
- Before sleep behavioral changes
- Disturbances in Memory
Though these side effects are usually very mild and the people with these side effects are in a tiny percentage, there is a possibility of them occurring.
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Sleeping Pills Have Risks And Side Effects
If you take sleeping pills for many days in a row, one risk is that you may start to depend on them. You may need them to fall asleep. If you stop taking them, you may sleep worse than you did before you tried the pills. This is why most doctors recommend you only take them occasionally, or for a few days in a row.
Other risks and side effects may include:
- Daytime drowsiness
- Dizziness and hallucinations
- Sleepwalking and sleep-eating
Over-the-counter sleep aids, such as antihistamines , have risks, too. Ask your doctor if these are safe for you.
How Sleep Drugs Work
Different types of sleep medications affect the brain and body in different ways.
All OTC sleep drugs rely on older antihistaminesdiphenhydramine or doxylamine which have drowsiness as a side effect.
A wider variety of sleep medications are available by prescription.
The oldest type is anti-anxiety drugs, such as temazepam and triazolam , from a class of medications called benzodiazepines, or benzos. These drugs make you feel drowsy or sedated by slowing activity of the brain and central nervous system.
The next generation of medications, the so-called Z drugs, including eszopiclone , zaleplon , and zolpidem , target the same brain receptors. But they do so more selectively, which is thought to reduce some of the side effects, such as lingering grogginess and the risk of becoming dependent.
The newest type of prescription sleep drugs, ramelteon and suvorexant , affects brain chemicals that regulate the sleep-wake cycle.
Doctors also sometimes treat sleeplessness with an older type of antidepressantmost commonly trazodonebecause it also has sleepiness as a side effect. Although the Food and Drug Administration has not approved trazodone for insomnia, doctors can legally prescribe a drug for any reason they see fit.
See A Quick Guide to Sleeping Pills, below, for more information on different sleep drugs.
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When Should A Person Use Sleeping Pills
The best time to take melatonin will depend on the nature of the sleep problem:
- Sleeping pills for insomnia: A person with insomnia should take a sleeping aid, which includes valerian and sedative antihistamines, just before or at bedtime.
- Sleeping pills for jet lag: Melatonin is a good option if tackling jet lag. Take melatonin several hours before the intended bedtime every day throughout the trip and a few days afterward.
- Sleeping pills for shift work: Melatonin may also be the best option for people managing shift work. Taking melatonin at the end of a shift can help prepare the body for bed.
People taking sedating antihistamines should follow the directions on the medication or the advice of a medical professional.
When to take valerian depends on the type a person uses. Generally, people can take valerian an hour before going to bed. People should follow the recommended dosage for supplements.
Learn more about valerian dosage here.
Recommended Supplements For Chronic Insomnia
In the guidelines, there are three dietary supplements included melatonin, tryptophan, and valerian. They are not recommended for treating insomnia. However, they can alleviate some of the conditions symptoms. Doctors warn patients to keep in mind that most sleep supplements are not regulated as strictly as drugs. That makes it rather hard to recommend them with certainty.
In most cases, melatonin supplements dont even contain melatonin, while valerian supplements dont contain valerian root. When it comes to tryptophan products, they supposedly contain another substance that stimulates the production of tryptophan. Before buying a sleep supplement, check which ingredients are listed on the label.
If you want to use natural sleep aids, it is best to consume it its natural state. For example, drink valerian tea or eat tryptophan-rich foods.
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What Are The Types Of Over
Any adult can buy OTC sleep medications at a store. OTC sleep aids often contain an antihistamine. This drug treats allergies, but it can also make you drowsy.
Some people take melatonin or valerian supplements to help them sleep. Melatonin is a hormone your body naturally produces that promotes sleep. Valerian is an herb that supposedly aids relaxation and sleep.
Although these sleep aids are easily accessible, you should check with your healthcare provider before taking them. Drugs in over-the-counter sleep aids can interfere with other medications or make health conditions worse.
They Can Be Habit Forming
For many people, benzodiazepines and Z-drugs can be habit forming. This means that if you take them on a nightly basis, your body can become dependent on them to sleep. It can be very difficult to stop taking them if youve been on them for a while. You can have withdrawal symptoms like vomiting and sweating when you try to go without them. You can help prevent yourself from becoming physically dependent on these medications by taking them only when needed or only for a few weeks at a time.
Because they are habit forming, these medications are considered controlled substances by the Drug Enforcement Agency . Controlled substances are medications that have special restrictions on how they are prescribed. For example, you normally have to see a provider in-person before receiving a prescription for a controlled substance. But since these restrictions have been temporarily relaxed during COVID, its now possible to get a prescription for a controlled substance online.
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Kirkland Signature Sleep Aid
is considered among the strongest OTC sleep aids in the anti-histamine category available on the market.
- Doxylamine succinate 25 mg
Since the active ingredient in Kirkland Signature is Doxylamine Succinate, a substance that has a very strong sedative effect, you will most likely feel physically and mentally tired after taking it. This is a good option if you yearn for a night of deep and uninterrupted sleep. However, its not a good choice if you plan to go to bed late and get up early in the morning to go to work. Kirkland sleep aid requires you to wake up slowly in the morning in order to avoid drowsiness and grogginess.
When it comes to safety, Doxylamine doesnt require you to increase the dosage every night. It also doesnt cause problems with addictions like many prescription sleep drugs do. This is an effective option is you are looking for a way to overcome a period of bad, interrupted and disrupted sleep.
What Are The Risks Of Taking Sleeping Pills
The main risk of sleeping pills is that you become dependent on them. This means they become less effective, you can’t sleep well without them, and feel unwell or worse insomnia when you try to stop.
Sleeping pills can also make you unsteady, dizzy and forgetful. They can make it hard for you to concentrate. You might feel groggy or tired next day. These side effects may increase your risk of having accidents and falls, especially in older patients.
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How To Use Sleeping Pills Safely
Always speak to a doctor or pharmacist if you are having trouble sleeping.
If you have been prescribed sleeping pills, here are some tips on using them safely:
- Check with your doctor or pharmacist if you can take your sleeping pills with your other prescription and non-prescription medicines.
- Take the pills as prescribed.
- Aim to use them for as short a period as possible, preferably no more than 1 to 2 weeks, then get off them.
- Discuss with your doctor or pharmacist how to stop safely.
- Dont mix sleeping pills with alcohol.
- Dont take someone elses sleeping pills or share yours with anybody.
Best Prescription Sleep Pills For Insomnia
In some cases, doctors will prescribe medications to treat insomnia. All insomnia medications are taken shortly before bed. It is strongly recommended not to drive after taking prescribed insomnia drugs because the medication makes you feel sleepy. Also, to avoid sleeping pills side effects, you should always take them as your doctor recommended it. For best effect, all prescription drugs should be used in combination with healthy sleep practices.
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Risks And Side Effects Of Sleeping Pills
All prescription sleeping pills have side effects, which vary depending on the specific drug, the dosage, and how long the drug lasts in your system. Common side effects include prolonged drowsiness the next day, headache, muscle aches, constipation, dry mouth, trouble concentrating, dizziness, unsteadiness, and rebound insomnia.
Using Medication: What Can Help When Trying To Stop Taking Sleeping Pills And Sedatives
The best way to stop taking sleeping pills or sedatives is to gradually reduce the dose with the guidance of a doctor. Psychological or therapeutic support can help.
Situations can arise where you feel like you can no longer cope: A serious illness or the breakup of a relationship, for example, can lead to a crisis and be extremely distressing. People in situations like that may feel very unsettled, anxious, exhausted or have problems sleeping.
Many people find ways to cope with this stress. But others find that problems like insomnia just do not go away. Some take or medications containing zolpidem or zopiclon during phases like this. They are some of the most commonly prescribed sleeping pills and sedatives.
Benzodiazepines can relieve cramps, relax the muscles and make people feel calmer and less anxious. They are also used to help people fall asleep and sleep through the night better. Z-drugs are said to particularly help people fall asleep.
Sleeping pills and sedatives can have very strong side effects, including problems with memory or concentration, drowsiness, muscle weakness, abnormal behavior and sleep disorders. They can also affect peoples ability to drive and, particularly in older and unwell people, increase the likelihood of falling.
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What Are The Different Types Of Sleeping Pills
Some sleeping pills are prescription medicines while others can be purchased over the counter. Others use herbal remedies.
Benzodiazepines are the most common type of prescription sleeping pills. Examples are temazepam, diazepam and oxazepam). Other prescription sleeping pills include zopiclone and zolpidem.
Some medicines not specifically designed as sleeping pills can also make you drowsy. They include antihistamines, which are available over the counter, and some prescription medicines for mental illnesses. Some antihistamines dont make you drowsy.
Some people use herbal remedies like kava and valerian. Research has not shown that they work.
Melatonin is a hormone that helps control sleep and waking pattern. A synthetic version of melatonin can be taken as a pill to help with sleep problems.