It might be quite natural these days to hear that someone you know takes sleeping pills. While many take them to get over their temporary about of insomnia, a lot of people have begun relying on them to fall asleep quickly. But this is not a quick fix solution and it has bad effects which are not instantly visible. Here’s more information in that regard.
Why Do Many People Rely on Sleeping Pills to Get Their Eyes Shut?
- Many people suffer from sleep problems, either occasionally or on a regular basis.
- People who travel long distances across time zones have disturbed circadian rhythms, making it difficult to fall asleep.
- Some people cannot sleep throughout the night since they keep waking up constantly.
How Are Sleeping Pills Damaging Your Health?
Although taking sleeping pills might be deemed necessary by your medical practitioner, there are many unwanted effects of taking sleeping pills every day that begin to affect your body on a long-term basis as well.
1. Undergoing Behavioural Changes
Sleeping pills affect your neurological makeup, the pathways and the chemicals, lulling you into sleep. However, these also control the mood and, consequently, your behaviour. Daily intake of sleeping pills is bound to result in some erratic changes in this matter.
2. Heightened Effect With Alcohol
Just like most medicines, sleeping pills are not the best bet to be combined with any kind of alcohol consumption. Whether they are taken before consuming alcohol or after it, their effect can be more pronounced and even fatal in some cases.
3. Possibility of an Allergic Reaction
This is one of the rarest side effects since a lot of sleeping pills are manufactured using constituents that are majorly considered non-allergic for the general populace. However, the presence of certain elements might trigger any allergies that you have, resulting in effects such as shortened breathing, swelling of the face and so on.
4. Propensity for Loss of Memory
Sleeping pills affect your brain to help you sleep better. But their daily intake is harmful to brain health in general, especially for people in their old age. The key chemical being identified for it is usually benzodiazepine, which has been linked to causing memory-related problems such as dementia, Alzheimer’s, and so on.
5. Increased Risk of Cancer and Premature Death
Sleep is said to be one of those processes where a body repairs itself and keeps things healthy. But sleep induced chemically via a sleeping pill isn’t the same as that. On the contrary, certain medical journals have shown that constant usage of these pills could result in the development of cancerous cells, or even negatively affect your usual lifespan, too.
6. Repetitive Instances of Heartburn
Acid reflux, or GERD as it is also called, is a legit problem that affects a lot of people around. The intake of certain sleeping pills can further accentuate the condition or manifest it in people who don’t have it. What’s worse is that they will keep you asleep even when you experience acid reflux, leading to oesophagal damage with repeat occurrences.
7. Addiction to Sleeping Pills
Most doctors tend to prescribe sleeping pills to people only for a certain period of time. These are required to break the bout of insomnia and help the body re-learn to fall asleep by itself. However, an addiction to the pills might manifest if they are taken for longer than the stipulated time, or even if you don’t. Some people might be more susceptible to addiction, resulting in what is termed as insomnia rebound. This makes sleeping issues worse than before.
8. A Feeling of Drowsiness Throughout
Sleeping pills bring on the sleep by usage of chemicals. Therefore, their release in the body and your natural sleep cycle may not always match. Many people report waking up after an 8-hour sleep and still continuing to feel drowsy through the day. At times, if you wake up earlier than usual, then the drowsiness is stronger. This can put you at risk of hurting yourself while carrying out your daily activities.
9. Chances of Triggering Parasomnia
Quite similar to how sleepwalking or somnambulism tends to occur, intake of sleeping pills may cause some people to be parasomniacs. They will end up walking around the house or even carry out complex activities while being under the influence of the pill, with absolutely no recollection of having done that at all. It can even result in amnesia as well.
10. Development of Sleeping Pill Resistance
Our body is a learning organism. Just as it develops immunity against diseases after a few bouts, it also learns how to counteract the effects of sleeping pills if administered for a long period of time. This makes it difficult to fall asleep even after consuming pills, causing more frustration and wanting you to take more pills than prescribed. In a lot of cases, this leads to medication overdose and even death.
How to Safely Consume Sleep Medication in Case You Don’t Have a Choice?
While falling asleep naturally is what would be highly recommended, many people suffering from insomnia may not have a choice. In such cases, taking sleep medication would be the right decision. There are a few things that can be kept in mind, to do this responsibly.
- Sleeping pills tend to get addictive if consumed for long periods of time, beyond a couple of months. Try to restrict your prescription for no more than a couple of weeks, and attempt to fall asleep naturally again.
- Take sleeping pills only when you know you don’t have any immediate high-concentration activities following an 8-10 hour undisturbed period.
- Avoid using sleeping pills as a way to improve your mental health. It can end up making it worse.
- If you experience an allergic reaction, avoid combining your sleeping pills with any anti-allergic medication or antihistamines.
- Stay away from combining sleeping medication with any kind of alcohol consumption or substances that can alter your state of mind for recreational purposes.
- If the pill doesn’t seem to have the necessary effect or you wake up earlier than usual, do not take another pill to put yourself to sleep again.
What You Can Do Instead of Taking Sleeping Pills
Before jumping directly to sleeping pills, or when cutting them out and opting for natural techniques, there are a few ways you can help your body relax and fall asleep.
- Try using aromatherapy with the right scents and make use of calm soothing music while sleeping.
- Have food items in your dinner that are known to induce sleep.
- Tweak your sleep environment by dimming the lights and have a nice bath before hitting the bed.
While doctors do recommend sleep medication for people with serious insomnia problems, there are disadvantages of sleeping pills that one should be aware of. Taking a holistic approach to the problem and finding the right solution to it is very necessary.