November 17, 2012

Are Sleeping Pills Safe?

Recently a survey was done and it was found that people who take sleeping pills twice a month or more are nearly four times as likely to die early as those who don’t. The question is should you bin the sleeping pills in the cupboard that your doctor prescribed or take a couple to break the miserable cycle of insomnia?  Being deprived of sleep can make you miserable as well as very tired and can cause you to do things like crash your car.

Sleeping tablets however, do have side effects such as affecting your short term memory and sleepiness in the day time. Even though they have these side effects some doctors will suggest that you try them just to help break the cycle of insomnia. Taking sleeping tablets for three to five days is normally enough to get you back into normal sleeping habits. You should not take them regularly as you will increase the risk of addiction.

It is easy to become worked up and stressed about not getting enough sleep but your body will often correct itself over a few days. It is normal for you to take about 20 minutes to fall asleep so do not get anxious if you do not drop off immediately but remain realistic. You can practice what doctors call “sleep hygiene” which basically means avoiding stimulants like coffee, alcohol and nicotine late at night and also avoiding looking at a computer screen before you go to sleep. Ideally you should start winding down an hour before you go to bed and make sure that your bedroom is quiet, comfortable and dark.

Sleeping pills and sleep aids can vary in their safety and also their effectiveness and it is rare that you would be advised by your doctor to use them in the long term. Persistent insomnia can sometimes be a symptom of an underlying psychological or medical issue that cannot be treated by using sleeping pills.

It is also important to remember that sleeping tablets, pills and sleeping aids can cause allergic reactions that can include facial swelling, memory lapses, hallucinations, and complex sleep-related behaviors. These can include sleep-walking and sleep-eating. If you experience any of these unusual sleep-related behaviors you must consult your doctor immediately for advice.

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