[su_dropcap style=”default” size=”3″ class=””]D[/su_dropcap]o sleeping pills work? Yes, they do. Can you get good sleep with sleeping pills? Yes, you can. However, before running to your doctor, please be aware of the intention and risks of sleep medications. This way you are confident that you can sleep and dream safely and peacefully.
It is important to recognize that sleep medications are only intended for a short period of time. As is true of many prescribed medications, sleeping pills are intended to treat the symptoms, not the cause of poor sleep. Like medication for high blood pressure or managing insulin resistance, the medication is futile long-term if the root cause is not properly addressed. General Practitioners prescribe medication for high blood pressure all the time, but it always comes with the caveat of encouraging the patient to manage their stress and weight. These examples are the real culprits of poor health and subsequently, poor sleep.
[blockquote type=”intext”]“It is very difficult to break the cycle, but taking the opportunity to deal with the underlying cause as opposed to simply treating the symptom, is the most effective means to healthy sleep.”[/blockquote]
The typical story of a sleep struggler is as follows. The sleep struggler amidst a world of demands and priorities must find a way to sleep…and fast. The sleep struggler visits his or her doctor and desperately pleads for a pill to save the day…or rather night. Problem solved, right? Nights 1 – 4 are a godsend, finally a good week’s sleep needed to get back to a good sleeping habit. But, then disruption again, maybe an all nighter, a bender, the all-night scream of a child, or the building burden of responsibility. The sleep struggler reverts to the sleeping pills, only this time, the effectiveness has declined and you need something stronger. The sleep struggler finds the quick fix, takes it and the negative cycle perpetuates.
This may sound like a dramatic tale, but it is one all too familiar for the sleepless. Products such as Ambien may work short-term, a week perhaps, but the stronger the medication, generally the higher risk of side effects. It is very difficult to break the cycle, but taking the opportunity to deal with the underlying cause as opposed to simply treating the symptom, is the most effective means to healthy sleep. The underlying problem may be as simple as drinking alcohol or coffee at night or going to bed too early, not addressing the melatonin cycle. Once the root cause has been identified, a professional should be able to recommend a solution that maximizes the benefit and minimizes the side effects.
The side effects can be quite alarming. Some sleeping medications come with warnings of dependency. Others can interfere with the dream portion of sleep and develop parasomnia, where dreams are acted out. This can and has put lives at risks. It’s no questions how dangerous the thought of getting out of bed, leaving the house, and possibly driving a car can be while asleep. It’s true and it has even happened to high-profile Congressman, Patrick Kennedy.
For hardcore insomniacs, it is a longer term project than just finding a medicine. It is critical to take the time to understand your personal sleep. Logging a sleep diary, minding sleep hygiene and best practices, awareness of the sleep environment, eating and drinking before sleep are all important factors to consider. For those frustrated and desperate for sleep at night, general practitioners may not be the right person to solve the problem. Consult a CBT or behavioral specialist to lead you on the journey. To first, recognize that there is a problem and to take the steps necessary to address the root cause. The journey is not easy (it never is), but one cannot expect to get to the top of the mountain without taking the trip. Good luck sleep strugglers!
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