Pharmaceutical sleeping aids are highly effective at getting people to sleep. That’s why so many people with insomnia rely on this type of medication. The problem is that, as a lot of sleep experts and doctors will attest to, both prescription and over-the-counter sleeping drugs are not viable long-term solutions to insomnia and other sleep problems. If your sleep disorder isn’t something that actually requires special medication/treatment like sleep apnea, you’re much better off using natural and herbal sleep remedies instead of sleeping pills.
Doctor’s Advice: Sleeping Pills Are Just for Short-Term Sleep Disorders
If you do use them, do not take sleeping pills for longer than 2 weeks. According to doctor of internal medicine at Mercy Hospital, Mark Leavey, you can start encountering problems when you use sleeping pills for longer than 7 to 10 days. Doing this can build up your tolerance for the medication, which means that you’ll need to take more and more pills to even feel the effects. As you can probably tell, it’s dangerous to keep upping your doses of any prescribed or otc medication, specially when it comes to ones designed to put you to sleep. Take too much sleeping pills and it might just cause depressed breathing in your sleep, a condition that can actually kill you.
Additionally, you could end up with even worse insomnia when you stop taking sleeping pills. When you use pills regularly, your body becomes dependent on their effects to usher in sleep. And if you suddenly stop taking the medication, it could be difficult for your body to start sleeping on its own again. If this happens to you, don’t quit cold turkey. Instead, consult your doctor regarding a weaning-off period that won’t be hell on your body.
Sleeping Pills are Much Too Risky
Frequent use of sleeping pills is associated with a bunch of nasty effects. For starters, it could cause heavy bouts of drowsiness during the day. Sleep medication has been linked not just to drowsy driving, but also to a much higher risk of falling on your feet (based on a study involving 16,000 hospitalized patients who took Ambien). Taking sleep medication can also be a trigger for sleepwalking episodes, especially if taken with wine or any alcoholic drink. And if you’re still not convinced that herbal remedies are better, some experts have found that chronic use of sleeping pills can lead to cancer and early death.
So unless you don’t have any other viable options, don’t rely on sleeping medication to fight insomnia. There are many drug-free and natural remedies that can be just as good (or better) at helping you sleep better.
100% Natural Sleep Remedies are Cheaper and Risk-Free
Pharmaceutical sleeping drugs have only been around since the latest parts of human history. Since humanity has existed, we’ve gotten along fine without these drugs, and that’s because the natural world is chock-full of sleep remedies that don’t need to be pharmaceutically processed. Familiarize yourself with which food and drinks can actually help bring about the onset of sleep.
Dried valerian root is one of those teas that actually have a physically relaxing effect. Its sometimes available in pill form, but you can also consume it by brewing it like tea. Apart from insomnia, valerian is used to treat conditions like anxiety disorder, menstrual cramps, joint pain, and even depression (which is both a viable cause and effect of insomnia). While it doesn’t work for everyone, it’s definitely worth a try if you haven’t already taken it for sleep.
Tart cherry juice or just actual fresh cherries can also help fight insomnia. This is because cherries are filled with tryptophan – an essential amino acid that’s necessary for the production of melatonin, the hormone that tells the body when to sleep. Apart from regulating your natural sleep cycle, cherries are also highly effective at mitigating inflammation – making it doubly beneficial for insomniacs who have arthritis or gout. Additionally, bananas also a good source of tryptophan (along with magnesium and potassium: muscle relaxants that can also aid with sleep).
For a combined natural dosage of tryptophan and melatonin, see if you can find a source of night milk. It’s simply milk taken from cows during the night. While it’s a myth that regular milk before bedtime helps you sleep, the effects of night milk are no myth – testing shows that it actually has significantly higher amounts of tryptophan and melatonin compared to regular milk. The problem with night milk is that you can’t find it just anywhere. But if you do, it could just be the solution to your years of chronic insomnia.
Apart from being highly effective at promoting quality sleep, all of these natural remedies can be used long-term without any adverse side effects.
Regular Exercise Helps Improve Sleep
This is something that was probably already mentioned to you by your doctor before, but it’s a fact that everyone needs to be reminded about: exercise helps you sleep. To be exact, at least 150 minutes of moderately exhausting physical activity every 7 days is enough to increase the quality of your nightly sleep by 65%. It’s no surprise that getting in shape and getting good and regular sleep are on the same boat of wellness.
Sex Improves Sleep
Speaking of exercise and natural remedies, what could be more natural than sex? Apart from counting as moderate exercise, intimate physical activity leads to the release of a natural chemical cocktail that’s very effective at fighting insomnia. What’s in this cocktail of sleep?
First on the list is oxytocin: also known as the ‘love chemical,’ oxytocin is one of the main reasons why we develop strong feelings of love and bonding with people that we trust. It leads to comfortable and very sleep-conducive moods. Second on the list are endorphins – chemicals that cause euphoria and physical relaxation. Endorphins are a good way to melt away stress and anxiety almost instantly. Third on the list applies only to women: estrogen. Sex increases estrogen production in women, and if it happens before bedtime, it can induce a more restorative sleep by enhancing the woman’s REM sleep cycles.
Instead of reaching for the dresser to fetch those valiums, reach for your partner instead. Maybe you both could use a dose of nature’s most intimate sleep cocktail.