Did you know that between 10 and 30 % of adults in the United States suffer from sleeping problems?
What is insomnia? Insomnia is the non-ability to fall asleep or stay asleep. That can have serious consequences on your physical and mental health. How? Well, if you suffer from sleep deprivation, your body does not get the chance to rest and recuperate. Likewise, being tired during the day can cause sleepiness, slow thinking, and other impairments that do not allow you to function to your full potential.
To deal with insomnia, many folks will turn to taking sleeping aids.
Which Are the Best Sleeping Aids for You?
If you are having difficulty falling or staying asleep, you may be considering some sleeping aids.
There are three types of sleeping aids, these include, over-the-counter drugs, prescription medications, and dietary supplements. All these sleeping aids have their pros and cons. You need to research treatment options and talk to your doctor for a personalized sleeping treatment.
Over-the-counter drugs are medications that can be bought without a doctor’s prescription. These tablets must still meet FDA review standards although not as strictly as prescription sleep aids.
Most over-the-counter sleep aids contain antihistamines. Antihistamines are the most common medication to treat allergies. But, because of their sedative effect, they are used as sleeping tablets.
Some antihistamine sleep tablets have added ingredients to help with fever, congestion, and coughs. When these ingredients are added, they are specified to be taken at night as they cause drowsiness.
Prescription drugs have to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA has strict rules and regulations before a prescription drug is made safe for selling. Once the drug is approved, a doctor has to give you a prescription before consumption.
Based on their chemical composition, different classes of drugs cause different levels of sleepiness. For sleeping disorders, here are some drugs approved by the FDA:
- Z Drugs cause a slowing down in brain activity that causes the brain to relax.
- Orexin receptor antagonists. Orexin is a chemical in the brain that makes you alert. This medication diminishes the production of orexin.
- Benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepines are like Z drugs.
- Melatonin receptor agonists. This medication promotes sleep by increasing the hormone melatonin in the body.
- This medication was first for the treatment of depression, but, were later found to have a sedative effect.
- Doctors will assess what is causing your sleep deprivation and treat you accordingly.
Vitamin Supplements to Help You Sleep
Not sleeping can become a nightmare! But, many natural remedies might finally help you snooze off. Thinking about trying vitamins to sleep? Here are 10 of them:
The sunshine vitamin! Studies have shown that a lack of vitamin D affects sleep patterns.
While sunshine is the main source of our vitamin D intake, you can supplement it with dietary food such as oily fish, eggs, and fortified foods.
A study has shown that being deficient in iron can cause restless leg syndrome. That is when people move their legs continuously when they go to bed. Of course, this will make you restless, and make it hard for you to fall asleep. Iron deficient women tend to be affected more often than men.
Foods rich in iron are liver, yes, dark chocolate, meat, beans, grains, and dark leafy greens. Alternatively, you can take iron tablets.
Magnesium is known for the relief it gives for sleeping disorders. It helps release stress and makes you relax. That prepares your body for sleep by relaxing it.
Foods that contain magnesium are dark leafy greens, seeds, fish, and nuts that help decrease the production of the stress hormone cortisol.
Our bodies naturally produce a hormone called melatonin. It clocks the routine of sleeping and waking cycles of the body. Light helps the production of melatonin. That is why we have higher levels of melatonin in the evenings. These levels drop in the early hours of the morning.
There are tiny amounts of melatonin found in grains, fruit, vegetables, and meat.
Apart from its well-known potential of strengthening teeth and bones, calcium helps the brain to manufacture melatonin. As seen before, melatonin helps induce sleep. “Have a glass of warm milk before bedtime!” yes, this is good advice to take. All dairy products contain calcium.
Again another vitamin that helps combat the ever irritating restless leg syndrome. By taking regular doses of vitamin E will help with sleep disorders.
It has been shown that vitamin E also helps relieve elements of menopause such as hot flushes and night sweats.
It is found again in dark leafy greens, fish, seeds, nuts, and fruits.
There are many levels of vitamin B. These are B3, B5, B6, B9, and B12. All these, taken at the right levels, regulates the level of amino acid tryptophan in our bodies, and this amino acid helps produce melatonin.
Most foods contain B vitamins, including fortified foods.
Chamomile, is most commonly taken through drinking tea. That has been done throughout history to help induce sleep and reduce stress and anxiety.
Valerian is known to be used by ancient civilizations such as the Greeks and Romans as a sedative and anti-stress treatment.
Valerian root when taken is thought to produce an element of gamma-aminobutyric acid. This amino acid prevents the brain from sending pain signals down the nerves.
If used for an extended time-period, valerian will help you sleep faster. It will also improve the quality of sleep. That is why you can quite easily get addicted!
Theanine in Tea
Last but not least, theanine is an amino acid that is in green tea. Although theanine does not contain sedative properties, it shows that it helps improve sleep patterns through its calming effects.
Diet alone, these days, does not give us enough of the nutrients and vitamins we need. Therefore, adding vitamins to your daily food intake will help you maintain a healthy body and mind.
Benefits of Sleep Aids for Sleep Disorders
The main benefit of most sleeping aids is that they help prompt drowsiness which leads you to nod off and stay asleep.
By improving sleep during the night, sleeping aids improve your daytime state. No more sleepiness and yawning!
Sleeping aids can also help you to start a new sleep routine. By taking a tablet at the same time at night for some weeks can induce a sleep pattern.
That said, sleeping aids are not for long-term usage.
Risks of Sleep Aids for Sleeping Disorders
There are potential side effects that vary from person to person and from medication to medication. As is always the fact, there are always negative side effects to all sleep medications. Some higher than others, let’s take a look at some of these side effects below.
- Lingering effects. Up to 80% of people who take sleep medication say that the next day they feel drowsy or less alert. That is why these medications can be more dangerous for people who drive and work with heavy machinery.
- Different behavior than normal. Sleep medication can change some people’s behavior. It can induce sleepwalking and even change your character.
- Loss of coordination. A strong sedative can make a person confused, unable to concentrate and, dizzy. That could result in accidents such as falls. If, taken during the day accidents when driving and operating machinery can happen.
- Allergic reaction. That will differ from person to person and are quite rare.
- Drug addiction: Because sleep medications make you relax and make you feel good, this could induce a drug addiction.
Because of these possibilities of side effects, it is imperative before taking sleeping tablets, to discuss with your doctor and prepare a treatment plan.
That Is the Question, to Sleep or Not to Sleep
No sleeping aid alone is the answer to your sleep disorder. To find out the root cause of your sleep disorder, your doctor and you must take many factors into account. There are many causes such as your age, medication you may be taking, your overall health, and many more. You will also discuss different sleep aids and dietary supplements such as vitamins to sleep, their benefits, and risks. Only then can you forge ahead with a treatment plan.
Of course, the best route is always to try not to take any sleeping aids at all if possible. You can improve your sleep hygiene, form a before-bed routine like going to bed at the same time every night. That can be an option before taking drugs to help you sleep.
However, in some cases, the need for sleep medication is the best way to help induce a sleep pattern.
Here is hoping you sleep like a baby and wake up feeling refreshed!