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Falling asleep quickly doesn’t happen for everyone. In fact, a lot of people usually wait 30 minutes or longer before sleep sets in. Anxiety and stress are two major factors that cause people to suffer from insomnia. One of the ways people combat the issue is by using sleep aids, but are sleep aids doing more harm than good when it comes to your sleep health?
According to recent numbers by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, around 9 million Americans take some sort of prescription or over-the-counter sleep aid. While sleep aids might be OK to use in a short-term capacity – with your doctor’s approval – using them for longer periods of time can lead to dependency, increased insomnia, and potential life-threatening risks.
What are Sleep Aids?
Sleep aids, whether prescribed by your doctor or those sold over the counter, are meant to help you overcome insomnia and other sleeping disorders for a short period of time. Sleep aids go by many names:
- Sleep medicine
There are various types of sleep aids and each one works a little different. For example, most over-the-counter (or OTC) sleep aids will contain antihistamines, such as Benadryl. Some people will use melatonin, which is a hormone your body makes naturally, to help fall asleep faster.
Then there are prescription sleep aids, such as antidepressants, benzodiazepines, and Z-drugs (such as Ambien and Lunesta). While it is important that you talk with your doctor before taking any new medication, sleep aids such as Ambien have been known to cause hallucinations, sleepwalking, and other activities that the person cannot remember doing.
Are Sleep Aids Addictive?
Any medication you take for an extended period of time can become addictive. Your body grows a tolerance to medications and you eventually need more of the medicine to get the job done. This dependency, especially with sleep aids, can be hard to crack and even more devastating to your sleep health.
As always, you should talk with your doctor about any medicine your taking, especially if you feel the medicine isn’t working as well for you anymore. Trying to sleep without sleep aids if you’ve taken them for a lengthy period of time means you could go through withdrawal. “Rebound insomnia” can happen, and it can be worse than before you started taking sleep aids.
Even OTC sleep aids can leave you feeling unwell and unable to sleep if you’ve taken them over a long period of time and suddenly stopped.
Are Natural Sleep Aids Safe?
Just because a sleep aid is natural doesn’t necessarily mean it’s completely safe. Melatonin is considered a natural sleep aid because it is produced naturally by your brain. That being said, it can cause headaches and sleepiness throughout the day after taking it. And, if you take it for too long and stop, your body will go through the same withdrawal as any other medicine.
The best natural sleep aids are the ones you don’t ingest, such as meditation or a relaxing bath before going to bed. You never have to worry about what you’re putting into your body if you’re not putting anything into your body. Remember, if you do decide that you want to try sleep aids for a little while, talk with your doctor first and set a plan for starting and stopping usage.
It’s also key to know that being comfortable in your bed is the greatest sleep aid out there. Whether it’s sleeping on a pillow that’s fitted just for you, or a new mattress that feels so relaxing, you can find it at Mattress Warehouse. Visit any of our stores today and ask one of our sleep experts for something to help you get your best night’s sleep.