Sleeping is one of the most basic functions of your body. It allows the brain to rest and heals the body for the next day. However, sleeping disorders and other problems are highly common around the world. At least 30% of adults have some sort of sleeping problem, while 10% have disorders like severe insomnia.
Naturally, you may be thinking of using sleep aids if you have been experiencing insomnia. Although it may help you in the short term, it has long-lasting effects on the body. Therefore, you need to consider various options before making the final decision.
7 Things to Consider Before Deciding on Sleep Aids
Sleeping aids or sleeping pills help people sleep efficiently or for a longer duration. They may even improve the quality of sleep at night. However, there are many risk factors associated with it. Hence, consider the following points before you opt to use sleep aids.
1. Adopting Behavioral Changes
Insomnia is a common problem that can affect an individual to a great extent. The ideal way to combat it is by implementing some lifestyle changes in your daily routine. Some simple methods include sleeping at a fixed time, exercising regularly, avoiding caffeine, and skipping daytime naps.
Accordingly, you can use the following techniques as well –
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation – This is a useful technique that helps to tire out the body and fall asleep faster. Lay on your bed and start the exercise from your feet. Clench the muscles in your feet for 10 seconds before relaxing. Repeat the process for your legs, thighs, and gradually upwards. This should help you sleep quicker.
- Abdominal Breathing Exercise – Think of it as both a breathing and meditation exercise. Take a deep breath through your stomach and hold for 5 seconds before exhaling. Repeat these steps until you feel adequately relaxed. Eventually, you should fall into a comfortable sleep.
2. Determining Short-term Sleeping Problems
Sometimes, people experience sleeping problems only due to some recent changes that may or may not be in their control. These are termed as short-term insomnia and can happen due to jet lag, extended work schedules, travel, attending events, and other disruptions. This can be the result of anxiety and stress, too.
Generally, such problems do not require you to decide on sleeping aids. You should consider them only if you have some long-lasting effects of insomnia.
3. Underlying Medical Conditions
A person can be further affected by sleeping aids if they have a pre-existing medical condition. Patients with kidney or liver diseases cannot take sleeping aids. Also, pregnant or breast-feeding women, senior citizens, and those with heart conditions are not allowed as well.
People with low blood pressure, epilepsy, or those following other medications are also prohibited from taking sleeping aids. In some cases, sleeping aids can cause allergic reactions as well due to which you may have to take some of the best allergy medicine to negate it. Therefore, it is always good to consult a doctor and try behavioral changes first.
4. History of Parasomnias
Although sleep aids can help a person fall asleep, it can have little effect on parasomniac behaviors. These include actions like sleep-walking, sleep-eating, sleep-driving, or talking in your sleep.
Usually, people can wake up while performing these actions. However, a sleeping aid can prevent you from waking up under such circumstances. Moreover, you will continue to carry out such actions even after taking sleeping pills. As a result, it can lead to worse problems like accidents, bodily harm, and other complications.
5. Problems with Sleeping Aids
Doctors will always tell you not to rely on sleeping aids due to their long list of problems. Always try to implement behavioral changes first. Follow proper sleeping habits and treat insomnia properly.
Additionally, sleeping aids come with a lot of side effects. You can also experience withdrawal symptoms as a result of drug dependence. Some adverse side effects include –
- Muscle Aches
- Memory Lapses
- Suicidal Tendencies
- Dry Mouth
- Rebound Insomnia
- Allergic Reactions
6. Availability of Sleeping Aids
For the most part, you cannot buy sleeping aids without a doctor’s prescription. However, some are still available over-the-counter. These have lower doses than usual but can certainly help in the short-term.
Over time, your body will become accustomed to it, leading to a dependence on the drug. Make sure you take the proper dosage as it can have long-lasting effects. Do try to refrain from buying it without a doctor’s prescription.
7. Consult a Doctor
Finally, sleeping problems and insomnia are best treated by a doctor. They will conduct some tests and ask questions to find the cause of the problem. In most cases, the issues are either psychological or the result of other health problems.
Most doctors will prescribe sleeping aids only if you combine it with behavioral changes. The medicines are used only in the initial phase and for the shortest duration possible. Doctors will be responsible for assessing your condition and prescribing the necessary dosage and period of usage.
Tips to Take Sleeping Aids Correctly
If you do decide to take sleeping aids, you should be wary of their usage. They’re available in the form of pills, tablets, or oral sprays. As a good rule of thumb, follow the tips given below –
- Do not take sleeping aids mixed with alcohol or other sedative drugs. Anti-anxiety and anti-depression medications come under the sedative category.
- Make sure that you have at least 7-8 hours set aside for sleeping. Once you take a sleeping pill, it will be hard to wake up.
- In rare cases, your sleep might break in-between. At that point, do not take a second dose at any cost. It can be deadly as you might slip into a comatose state.
- If you’re just starting, go for the lowest dose possible. Accordingly, you can consult a doctor for the appropriate power and dosage.
- Under any circumstances, do not make it a habit of taking sleeping aids each night. This will create a drug dependence and cause withdrawal symptoms when you stop.
- Those with parasomnia can ensure that their house is properly secured or their car is firmly locked. You can also have someone know that you’re taking sleeping aids so that they can keep a close check on you.
To summarize, it is always better to implement behavioral changes as opposed to taking sleeping aids. They cause several side effects and long-lasting health problems. You should always consult a doctor if your sleeping problems have been consistent for a long time.