Taking Sleep Aids? Wake Up and Learn the Hazards!

Can’t sleep? Take a sleeping pill. Even better, get them prescribed to you by your doctor! They’re harmless, right? Wrong… Countless insomniacs find themselves dependent and addicted.

With all of life’s pressures and stresses, some people simply cannot relax enough to sleep through the night. And that’s okay — we’ve all experienced a restless night of insomnia. But for those who suffer from chronic insomnia, nighttime is only more stressful. Knowing the body needs to sleep, but going night after night with none, can be crippling. That’s when sleeping pills come into play.

Sleep aids like Ambien are typically prescribed for people who suffer with insomnia. According to the New York Times blog, “Americans filled some 60 million prescriptions for sleeping pills last year, up from 47 million in 2006, according to IMS Health, a health care services company. ”

Some people misuse Ambien immediately, and take more pills than prescribed, while others only start to stockpile the pills when they think about quitting. Other people like feeling sleepy and more calm while on the medication, so they start taking it at other times during the day to relax.

Sleep aids, especially when combined with alcohol or other drugs, sleep aids can be dangerous. Side effects of taking them alone include:

  • allergic reactions
  • increase in depression
  • memory loss
  • confusion

If you or a loved one takes sleeping pills for a better night’s rest, NYT blog suggests good “sleep hygiene”:

  • Have a set bedtime and adopt a pre-sleep ritual, like reading.
  • Do not nap during the day.
  • Do not watch television or use the computer before going to sleep.
  • Avoid exercise, nicotine, alcohol, caffeine and spicy food for several hours before going to sleep.
  • Block out light and noise from the bedroom.

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