You get it, sleep is REALLY important, so you climb into bed early each night, ready to catch your required 8 hours.
The neighbourhood noises and brain ruminations rudely interrupt your OFF time. Two hours later, you’re in bed, but you’re still not actually asleep.
You need HELP ! Is a sleeping pill the answer ?
Emerging from the house like a crazed zombie that has not slept a wink all night, is not a health move. Your ability to think clearly, pick up heavy items, remember things and act nice is going to be negatively affected, not to mention you could be scaring the neighbourhood children.
So a sleeping tablet is going to be helpful in the short-run.
But long term…………………..
Maybe not ……………………
A big analysis of people who are catching their zees every night with pharmacological assistance, suggests sleeping tablets aren’t switching things off, quite the same as mother nature.
The study tracked the drug buying habits of 40 000 people in a health scheme over a 10 year period. 10 531 of the members of the scheme filled a sleeping tablet script for a period of 2.5 years during the 10 years. The other 23 674 people did not.
When the numbers were crunched, those using sleeping tablets ended up being 4.6 times more likely to end up dead. One big health risk for this group was the big C, cancer.
Sleeping tablets don’t kill you
Calm down, that is not as bad as it looks at first glance. Taking a sleeping tablet is not going to kill you per se, unless of course you take way too much all in one go.
Yes, 4.6 times is quite a lot higher, but since dying itself, although inevitable, it actually quite rare, the research is just saying “Hey, people who take sleeping tablets die a tiny bit more often than people who don’t”.
It might be the sleeping tablets fault, but if you’re using sleeping tablets to do something that your body should be doing without pharmacological interventions, hey, you’re broke already.
Deal with the “broke”
The point of the post is not to vilify sleeping tablets. For many people, they’re life savers, not life takers.
Bad body chemistry ruins your sleep quality and sleeping tablets aren’t able to fix the bad body chemistry, they just help you to cope a little better, by getting a little down time.
But that down time is not perfect, just like short changed down time in the sleep deprived, it creates metabolic gaps, which leads to metabolic break downs, which put you at risk from the dreaded diseases : cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer.
So in the long term, sleep problems need better body chemistry.
The ABCs of fixing sleep
Oh, if it was so easy………………
Both external and internal things can impact on your sleep chemistry. The list is pretty long one, big issues
- Light – which is triggering melatonin, a big sleep hormone – too much light as well as too little, can cause major sleep disruption
- Caffeine and other stimulants, including certain types of food, in your system at bedtime,
- Depression and other conditions in which neurotransmitters are out of balance
- Hormones – especially sex hormones
So the ABC begins with
- Analysis – you need to take a serious look at your habits, pin point the things your perpetually do that could be causing TROUBLE
- Bed – get into bed, preferably at the same time every night and definitely before midnight.
- Calm down – dial down that psychosocial stress. Try cognitive therapy, meditation, a soak in a hot bath full of bubbles….. the point is to switch off those racing thoughts. stress
Sleep easy not sleep quick
If you’re feeling all motivated to cut the sleeping tablets out. Bear in mind, sleeping easy won’t happen overnight.
Flushing your sleeping tablets down the drain and going cold turkey, could cause some seriously bad mojo. Go easy, work on the body chemistry issues and wean yourself off the sleeping tablets slowly i.e. cut back don’t just cut them out.Hypnotics’ association with mortality or cancer: a matched cohort study. BMJ Open, 2012;2:e000850. Kripke DF, Langer RD, Kline LE.
Interested in learning more about the chemistry behind sleep ?
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