Thursday 25 January 2024

What are the best sleeping pills?

Sleep is critical to your physical and mental health and essential for proper brain functioning. Poor or inadequate sleep leads to lower energy levels, poor focus, and irritability. People struggling with sleep use sleeping pills like Zolpidem in the UK so they can easily fall asleep or stay asleep.

Sleeping pills help treat restless sleep, insomnia, and other sleep issues.

Moreover, sleeping pills relieve anxiety and boost learning and memory. These medications increase GABA levels in the brain, a natural chemical causing sleepiness, to help people relax and sleep better.

What is Sleep disorder?
A sleep disorder affects overall health, quality of life, and even safety (extreme drowsiness during driving can be life-threatening). Sleep disorders affect the amount, quality, and timing of sleep at night.

Sleep disorders can affect your physical and mental health. You might be suffering from a sleep disorder if:
  • You have trouble sleeping regularly.
  • You have an irregular wake and sleep cycle.
  • You are unable to perform daytime activities because of extreme drowsiness.
  • You feel tired all day long despite sleeping for at least seven hours the previous night.

Common Sleep Disorders
Some of the most common sleep disorders are:
  • Insomnia: A person has difficulty sleeping or staying asleep throughout the night.
  • Circadian Rhythm Sleep-Wake Disorder: The internal clock is disturbed, and a person has trouble falling asleep and waking up on time.
  • Narcolepsy: A person suffers from extreme daytime drowsiness during the day and can suddenly fall asleep during the day.
  • Parasomnias: In this condition, verbal expressions and physical actions occur, such as eating, walking, and talking.
  • Restless Leg Syndrome: RLS is a type of sleep movement disorder. It is also called Willis-Ekbom disease, which triggers an uncomfortable sensation with an urge to move the legs while trying to fall asleep.
  • Sleep Apnea: A person suffers from abnormal breathing patterns while sleeping. Sleep apnea has numerous types.

How do you detect sleep disorders?
Polysmonography, also called sleep study, is a test to diagnose sleep disorders. It monitors sleep cycles and stages. Moreover, it can identify when and why your sleep patterns get disrupted.

The most common types of sleep studies monitor and record data about the body during the night when you have full sleep.

Polysomnography records:
  • Brain waves
  • Breathing rate
  • Blood pressure
  • Eye and leg movements
  • Heart rate and its electrical activity
  • Oxygen level in your blood
  • Types of sleeping pills
  • Different types of sleeping pills are available. There are three main types:
  • Prescription Sleeping Pills
  • Over-the-counter Sleeping Medication
  • Herbal and Traditional Medicines
Some medicines make the user sleepy as a side effect even though they are not sleeping pills. Physicians also prescribe antidepressants to people to treat their depression.

They impact the neurotransmitters in the central nervous system to reduce anxiety, boost relaxation, and stimulate sleep.

Prescription Sleeping Pills

The most common prescription sleeping pills are benzodiazepines. Doctors prescribe sleeping pills for short-term use. Benzodiazepines increase the strength of the brain’s sleep signals so the body gets notified that it is time to relax, relieve anxiety, and fall asleep. Some examples of prescription sleeping pills are:
  • Alprazolam
  • Clonazepam
  • Diazepam
  • Lorazepam
  • Temazepam
  • Non-benzodiazepine or Z-drugs
Z-drugs are quick-action sleeping pills that help users sleep within 30 minutes of taking them. The non-benzodiazepines stimulate drowsiness and promote sound sleep while making you relaxed. They have minimal side effects, and doctors prescribe them frequently due to lower risk for drug tolerance. Some examples of non-benzodiazepine drugs are:
  • Ambien
  • Zolpidem
  • Zopiclone

Over-the-Counter Sleeping Medication
These medicines are non-prescription medicines and supplements. Some examples are:
  • Diphenhydramine (Benadryl)
  • Doxylamine (Unisom)
  • Melatonin supplements
Doctors prescribe melatonin supplements to those who have trouble sleeping or elderly who suffer from insomnia. It is a natural hormone that regulates our sleep and waking cycle.

Melatonin decreases with age. Melatonin supplements improve both sleep quality and morning alertness.

Herbal or Traditional Medicines
Using herbal and traditional medicines can be beneficial for treating insomnia. There is no proof that they are helpful in sleep, but the most popular remedies are:
  • Chamomile
  • Passionflower
  • St. John’s Wort
It is important to remember that all medicines are not safe for everyone. You must consult your physician or doctor to know if these medications will help you have a restful sleep based on any existing or previous illnesses or any current medications you are on.

Factors influencing the effectiveness of sleeping pills
There are different elements that impact the performance of sleeping pills. One should be careful about the following when taking sleeping pills:
  • Do not use alcohol while taking sleeping pills.
  • Do not take opiates or antidepressants with sleeping pills. Avoid combining two or more drugs, which slow down the central nervous system as it can slow down breathing and even cause death.
  • Grapefruit increases the amount of drug your bloodstream absorbs and the duration it stays in the body. Therefore, it is said to avoid grapefruit or grapefruit juice when you are on sleeping pills.
Is it safe to use sleeping pills for an extended period?
Sleeping pills for the short term are acceptable, but using them for an extended period is not healthy. It affects brain function, alters sleep structure, and leads to dependency on the pills.

Using sleeping pills for longer duration has adverse side effects such as:
  • Brain degeneration
  • Dizziness
  • Depression
  • Poor memory
  • Respiratory depression
  • Risk of accidental falls
  • Risk of dementia in older people
  • Sexual dysfunction
Potential risks involved
As mentioned above, there are various risks associated with the long-term use of sleeping pills:
  • Dependency
  • Rebound Insomnia
  • Poor Motor Skills & Coordination
  • Grogginess
  • Doing Things While Asleep (eating, talking, driving, etc., and no memory of it later).
Side effects to consider

The initial side effects one might experience with sleeping pills go away with time as the body gets accustomed to it.

Here are some of the short-term side effects of sleeping pills:
  • Confusion
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Dry mouth
  • Headache
  • Indigestion or distension
  • Muscle weakness
  • Slow brain processing and decision-making
  • Squeamish
  • Sleepiness
  • Tiredness

Consult with the healthcare provider
Those who suffer from sleep issues daily, like being unable to sleep for hours or getting up frequently, should consult a doctor as soon as possible.

Sleep deprivation has damaging consequences for the body and mind. Do not self-medicate and start taking sleeping pills. Consult your physician so they can determine the best course of treatment.

They will identify the causes of your sleep disorders and decide if you should go for sleeping pills or other methods that can bring you relief. Or they might opt for a combination treatment to resolve your sleep issues.

Lifestyle changes that can improve sleep quality
To help you sleep better, your doctor will require changes to your sleep routine and hygiene. Sleep hygiene includes changes in your bedtime routine for optimal sleeping environment and experience.
  • Make a Sleep Schedule: Stick to the same bedtime and wake-up time.
  • Create habits before bed. Indulge in a calming activity like music, reading in soft light, and avoid screens to unwind
  • Exercise daily
  • Avoid taking naps after 3 pm. Read about how you should take power naps for better health.
  • Minimize stress
  • Avoid taking caffeine, tobacco, alcohol, and heavy meals in the evening
  • Relaxation exercises or meditation
  • Make your bedroom quiet, dark, and cool. Use a supportive pillow and mattress.

Sleep disorders disrupt your sleep cycle and affect your quality of life. They prevent you from getting the restful sleep you need to function properly. While using sleeping pills may have its perks, there are

always the risks of tolerance and addiction.

See your doctor immediately if you are struggling with your sleep. Your health depends on good sleep. Practice simple sleep hygiene habits, along with your doctor’s instructions to get your sleep cycle back on track.

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