Alternatives to Sleeping Pills

by Florence Cardinal Patient Expert

This is the
second of a series of articles I'll be running touching on various aspects of sleep, sleep problems and sleep deprivation. Today's article focuses on the increasing usage of sleeping pills, for everyone from children to senior citizens.

Yes, people need sleep, but they should also remember there might be other methods to call up the sandman.

Years ago, many people relied on alternative methods for health and healing. Herbal remedies were popular for everything from wounds to nausea to, well, sleeplessness. New Age methods also became popular, things like meditation and creative visualization.

Then, suddenly, herbal remedies and all things New Age started to get a bad reputation. People backed away and began relying more on over-the-counter "cures" including Nytol, Sominex and antihistamine-type medications. The use of prescription drugs began to rise.

The truth is, many of these alternative methods are just as valid now as they were ten, fifty or hundreds of years ago. Many herbs and herbal combinations can prove beneficial. Soft, gentle music can relax you and lull you to sleep. Music has been used for years to coax infants and toddlers to sleep. But adults, too, often find it easier to fall asleep to soft music.

Yet another method still in use today is meditation. Meditation is an excellent way to relax and often can lull you to sleep. It's also believed meditation increases the flow of melatonin.

These three things - herbal remedies, music and meditation - are only a sampling of alternative methods of getting to sleep. Others include biofeedback, massage, yoga and hypnosis.

I'm not saying prescription sleeping pills should never be used. If you're really having a difficult time, suffering from sleep deprivation because of it and your doctor has prescribed ambien or Lunesta or one of the other sleep medications, by all means use it. But it wouldn't hurt to keep in mind that there may be another, and simpler method.

Warning: Never mix prescription drugs and herbal remedies. If in doubt, always ask your doctor or pharmacist.

Florence Cardinal
Meet Our Writer
Florence Cardinal

Florence wrote for HealthCentral as patient expert for Sleep Disorders.