Millions of sleeping pills and natural remedies are consumed every year. Very often people start with natural remedies before moving on to prescription medication. In this Sharepost I briefly consider the differences between natural remedies and prescription medication in terms of their benefits and limitations.
Are you hesitant about taking sleeping pills? Well, that's not such a bad thing. There is plenty of evidence to show that disturbed sleep can be resolved by changes in lifestyle, exercise, diet, etc. Making changes where you can is always recommended as the first course of action. However, if you are considering natural remedies you need to be aware of a couple of things. First, natural remedies are not regulated in the same way that prescription medicines are. The ‘dosage' can vary greatly between manufacturers and the effectiveness of some remedies is not particularly well understood or documented.
Some remedies like Nytol, Sominex and Simply Sleep contain antihistamines. Elderly people are especially sensitive to antihistamine and breast-feeding mothers are recommended to avoid their use. The use of Melatonin may be helpful to people who regularly cross time zones. Some people use the herb valerian to help them sleep. The basic rule seems to be that these products may be o.k. to break into a short cycle of insomnia but their long-term use isn't recommended by experts.
For people who take prescription sleeping pills, there are different things to consider. The effectiveness of sleeping pills can be relatively short-lived although some of the newer generation drugs are thought to be effective in some people for up to a year. As people become tolerant to their medication they may be tempted to take more in order to get to sleep. This is the time to visit your doctor and explain what's happening. Your doctor can then vary your medication.
If you have been taking sleeping pills for several months you may be worried about their addictive properties, or even whether you can ever come off them? In fact the long-term health risks appear to be minimal and newer drugs like Ambien C.R. and Lunesta have quite limited potential for addiction. Older drugs like Seconal and Nembutal are thought to pose a higher addiction risk and support from the doctor may be needed to step down the dose and/or replace it with alternatives.
When is it the right time to consider a sleep remedy? Well, there's no hard-and-fast rule, but if you have been restless, had difficulty falling to sleep or had poor sleep for around four weeks, it's probably time to see the doctor.
Published On: September 22, 2008