Addicted to Sleeping Pills
British news reports say that as many as one third of citizens there feel that they are struggling with insomnia. Half of that number uses a prescription sleep aid to help them, but they are using them without their doctor’s knowledge. And14 percent of that group used them for at least six months. The problem of sleeping pill abuse is also a concern here in the U.S.
Why So Much Insomnia?
Why are so many of us struggling with sleep? No one can say for certain, but many suggest that work-related stress, unemployment and concerns about the economy in general are taking a heavy toll on citizen’s shut-eye time. In addition to outside stressors, many health conditions can lead to interrupted sleep and the same is true for many medications which people are taking more than ever before. A large number of people use tobacco and alcohol to relax before going to bed. However, though those substances may help them to relax initially, studies show that they actually produce greater wakefulness as the night wears on.
Why is Using Sleeping Pills a Problem?
Since so many people are finding it hard to get a good night’s rest, what is wrong with taking advantage of prescription sleep aids? To begin with, as mentioned above, a significant number of people are using them apart from a doctor’s recommendation and without his/her oversight. This is important since most sleeping aids are intended to be used for only a short period of time and those who use them outside of a doctor’s direction, tend to use them for far too long.
Using sleeping aids can be dangerous. A person who uses sleeping pills is five times more likely to die if he/she uses them on a regular basis. That is a statistical fact. People who use sleeping pills also experience more mental fogginess which can lead to more injuries from falls and accidents. Taking sleep aids can make it harder to concentrate and more difficult to remember things during the day.
What Else Can a Person Do to Help Them Sleep?
A significant problem with using sleeping pills is that sleep is a conditioned behavior. Our bodies become habituated to certain patterns before and during sleep. When a person becomes used to taking a pill in order to sleep, he/she will find that they cannot sleep without the pill. It can take the body years to re-learn and recover from sleeping pill addiction.
Instead of pills, people can try developing bedtime habits that tell the body it is time for sleep. Light reading each night at bedtime is one way to signal sleep time. Another technique is to develop bedtime rituals like laying out clothes for the next day, or brushing, flossing and washing the face before getting into bed. Dimming the lights, restricting sleep and timing physical exercise are also ways to train sleep habits.
People everywhere are having a hard time sleeping. We all have lots on our minds and we are taking more medications than ever before. Sleeping pills used under a doctor’s supervision can be a short-term remedy but should not be used long term.