Many people who have trouble falling asleep during the night often use sleeping pills as a last recourse. These are medications used to induce sleep. There are various compositions of soporific drugs and they vary in safety and effectiveness. Despite their effects, these medications are not meant for long-term use. People who suffer from insomnia may be tempted to take these drugs for long-term use, but there are other solutions available aside from using sleeping medications.
Indications for Sleeping Pills
Sleeping pills are used mainly for short-term relief for insomnia. Insomnia is a condition that is believed to be a symptom of some underlying physiological or psychiatric disorder characterized by the difficulty in falling asleep or the difficulty in staying asleep. Insomnia leads to decreased functional efficiency while awake. People who suffer from this disorder tend to be lethargic, weak, irritable, and suffer from decreased concentration due to lack of rest during the night. Sleep-onset insomnia is often thought to be a symptom of an anxiety disorder or a delayed sleeping disorder, while middle-of-the-night insomnia is an underlying symptom of clinical depression or pain disorders. Soporific drugs can offer relief for these conditions for a short period. Most doctors prescribe these drugs to be taken for a few sleepless nights, in time to get the underlying conditions diagnosed and treated.
Safety Tips in Using Sleeping Pills
Although taking soporific drugs comes with very little side effects, doctors still recommend following a couple of safety tips to avoid dependence. Here are some of the most common safety tips one should take note of when taking these medications.
- Take the medications intermittently. This is very important for those who think that they cannot go one night without the medication. Use another mode of relief or plan to stay awake all night. This way the body does not get used to the idea of using a pill in order to fall asleep every single night.
- Pair the use of the pill with cognitive behavior therapy. Taking the pill followed by meditation or relaxation exercises will help you prepare your body for rest. Some studies have shown that cognitive behavioral therapy can be as effective as these drugs, and even more.
- Before taking the medications, get an examination to rule out sleep apnea, another condition that causes sufferers to wake up in the middle of the night. This is a disorder that can be more serious than insomnia and should be diagnosed right away. The condition can be remedied using other medical treatments.
- Take low doses on the first few days and gradually build up if there is no relief. Experts also advise that sufferers avoid taking the drugs for the first time when not in the home. There are some users who tend to sleepwalk when taking the medications, so it is best to take the drugs when other people are around.
Learning How to Sleep Naturally Sans Sleeping Pills
There are many options for sleeping aside from taking pharmacologic sleep aids. These options become even more important if one is starting to depend on taking the drugs for every night of the week. Some people may resort to sleeping pills after trying out various other remedies that did not work. Aside from the usual warm glass of milk before bedtime, there are natural alternatives to sleep medications. These include:
- Herbal remedies
- Behavior modification
Behavior modification is perhaps the easiest and least-expensive way to improve one’s sleep during the night. This involves changing the resting environment, reducing the amount of stress one is exposed to before bedtime, and delegating the bedroom as the place for nighttime rest and relaxation and not for any other purpose such as work. This also includes sticking to a schedule and arranging the bedroom to be most conducive for resting. Therapies that do not involve medication include relaxation, massage, or getting a warm shower before bed. Sex is also another effective way to fall asleep at night.
When to Stop Taking Sleeping Pills
This is a common question that most people ask when taking these medications. Soporific drugs are designed for short-term use, with most doctors prescribing them for a couple of days’ use. Long-term use can render these pills less effective as the body build tolerance. Users who have been taking the pills for the long term should stop using the pills when the medications start to lose their effectiveness, or when they are not getting the same quality of rest that they used to.
Sleeping medications are a great option for getting a good night’s rest especially during days when nighttime rest is hard to come by. However, these pills are not designed for long-term use. Effective sleep management and relief for insomnia can be achieved with a good balance of sleeping pills and the use of other remedies such as cognitive behavior therapy, meditation, relaxation, and herbal remedies.