Sleeping aids are commonly sought among the general public to help achieve deep and lasting sleep. Getting a good night’s sleep is of paramount importance for our overall sense of wellbeing as well as our actual physical and psychological health.
Sleep is essential for optimal body and brain function. With adequate, high-quality sleep, overall health, memory, learning capacity, creativity, and decision-making skills are optimised.
Many people regularly fail in their quest for a good night’s sleep for an array of reasons, and factors such as snoring, sleep apnoea, stress, a substandard sleep environment, excess food and alcohol consumption, lack of exercise, cigarette smoking, and drug use may all contribute to difficulties achieving proper sleep.
Without good quality sleep the majority of the time, one can experience everything from daytime tiredness and moodiness to lack of concentration, memory issues, compromised decision-making ability, increased risk of accident and injury, and chronic conditions including depression, Type II Diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and other serious health concerns.
Achievement of a good night’s sleep first and foremost relies upon good sleep habits. For some, however, these are not enough, and this is where sleeping aids can help.
Types of Sleeping Aids
There are numerous sleeping aids that can be very effective when used properly. These include:
- Stop Snoring Devices – snoring is a huge contributor to poor-quality sleep. A medical-grade stop snoring device can help to alleviate the issue to prevent disruption to sleep which results from snoring.
- Over-the-Counter Sleep Aids – these are medications that, in most cases, contain antihistamines. These can be very effective, however, they do have possible side effects that can be troublesome (e.g. grogginess, dry mouth, constipation, blurred vision, forgetfulness) and these can be experienced for a day or two after use.
- Prescription Sleeping Pills – these include hypnotic drugs. They are available only at the direction of your doctor, and these must be used with extreme caution and exactly as prescribed. They should not be used as an ongoing, long-term solution.
- Melatonin – this hormone is triggered by darkness and controls the sleep-wake cycle. It can help with sleep issues related to jet lag and shift work. It can cause headaches and daytime sleepiness.
- Valerian – is a herbal supplement that has been used as a sleep aid for millennia. It appears to be generally free of side effects, except for very vivid dreams which some users report experiencing. Its therapeutic value is unproven and it can interfere with antihistamine and statin drugs.
Sleeping Pills and Sedatives – Why they can be Dangerous
Some people resort to sleeping pills and sedatives to alleviate their sleep problems. Of all the sleeping aids, these need to be used with most caution, as they can be very dangerous if relied upon too heavily or are misused.
Sleeping pills, even those available over-the-counter, can be tolerance-building; the longer they are used, the less effective they will be. They can have associated side effects including compromised REM sleep and a “hangover” the following day. Additionally, there are potential interactions with other medications, and the safety and effectiveness of sleeping pills of any kind can’t be guaranteed. Some medical conditions are also incompatible with using these types of sleeping aids, for example, asthma, sleep apnoea, liver disease, and others.
Risks of ongoing use of sleeping pills include:
- Drug interactions
- Hangover effect
- Rebound insomnia
- Allergic reactions
- Possible link to dementia
- Suicidal thoughts
- Masking other health issues
Over-the-counter and prescription sleeping pills can be effective as a temporary, short-term solution for sleeplessness, however, lifestyle changes are by far the best approach.
Natural Ways to Improve Sleep
As well as careful use of valerian or melatonin in the short-term to help with an occasional night of insomnia, there are other natural ways to improve your quality of sleep. These include:
- Lavender essential oil (a few drops in a hot bath, in an oil diffuser, or even sprinkled on your pillow)
- Have a warm milk beverage or chamomile tea before bed.
- Darken your room and remove sources of light from view, including digital clocks and television sets).
- Have an ideal room temperature for sleep – not too hot and not too cold.
- Use a comfortable pillow.
- Natural supplements that include lemon balm, chamomile, lavender and passionflower can be helpful in promoting sleep.
- Magnesium has been shown to improve sleep quality.
Good Habits for Great Sleep
- Go to sleep at the same time each night, and get up at the same time each morning – even on weekends.
- Avoid daytime napping.
- Learn to manage stress effectively.
- Don’t eat a very large meal at night, and don’t eat within at least three hours of bedtime.
- Avoid caffeine after 4 pm.
- Avoid cigarette smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.
- Avoid illicit drug use.
- Avoid using computers, phones, and other backlit screens for at least an hour before bed.
- See your doctor to try to identify the cause of your sleep issues so that these can be directly addressed.
- If you snore, invest in a medical-grade stop snoring device.
SnoreMD is a revolutionary sleeping aid device that has successfully helped people worldwide get relief from snoring for a better night’s sleep. Manufactured to stringent industry standards, SnoreMD is a mandibular adjustment device (or mouthguard) that repositions the lower jaw to alleviate snoring. Visit our website to purchase SnoreMD and to access a wealth of information relating to achieving a better night’s sleep. Contact us to learn more.