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Be Wary of Prescription Sleep Medication

Posted On December 23, 2013
December 23, 2013

Counting sheep is not doing the trick. Soothing and meditative sounds could easily be heavy metal music for all the good they’re doing in trying to help you sleep. You are at your wit’s end and finally decide to make an appointment with your primary care physician to get something—anything—to help you sleep. After filling your prescription at the drug store, you are looking forward to a much needed and good night of sleep. You might have temporarily found a solution to your sleep problem but it is not a true and permanent fix.

On the market today are a wide variety of prescription sleep medications with some used to induce sleep and others to help you stay asleep. If you opt and reach for prescription sleep medication, be wary. You should only take the medication for a short time period, 7 to 10 days, and not longer than 4 weeks. Even if you get a good night of sleep, you need to be careful the morning after as many of the drug possibilities can affect you in terms of continued sedation and even loss of memory. Therefore, be cautious when getting behind the wheel of a car to drive to work or run errands on the weekend.

Drugs classified as sedative hypnotics such as Valium, Ativan, Ambien, Sonata and Lunesta, can be full of risks like dependency, withdrawal and insomnia can return. When taking these drugs, you should also be aware of possible side effects, which can include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Sleep-related behavior, such as sleep-walking and driving, eating food while asleep and making phone calls. There have been a number of instances whereby a person taking Ambien used this fact to explain away unusual behavior. They claimed that the drug caused them to become disoriented, confused and had no memory of anything that had transpired during the said event.

The latest prescription sleep medication to arrive on the scene is in a class by itself. Rozerem specifically works on a person’s wake-sleep cycle. By binding to hypothalamus receptors in the brain that control circadian rhythm, the drug induces sleep. Even though Rozerem targets a small area of the brain with fewer side effects, there is still a risk for psychological dependence.

Nevertheless, it always best to stick to lifestyle modifications to improve your sleep. Here are just a few tips to keep you from opening the medicine cabinet:

  • Avoid heavy and large meals toward the end of your day as the work your stomach and intestines have to perform will make sleep difficult. In addition, you should finish eating any food at least 2 hours before heading to bed.
  • With regard to beverages, avoid alcohol before heading to the bedroom and also decrease the amount of quantity of what you drink. It doesn’t matter whether you consume water, juice, warm milk or even herbal tea. You need to stop drinking 2 hours before bedtime, in order for you to not head toward the bathroom in the middle of the night.
  • Stick to a consistent schedule whereby you go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day, even on the weekends.
  • Develop a pre-sleep ritual, e.g. jotting down a list of current worries and developing a plan to deal with them the next day, or take a warm bath or shower.

You don’t have to reach for the prescription bottle to solve your sleep problems. Discover other solutions by contacting one of our medical concierges today at 1-855-863-4537 to schedule a free consultation.

About Phoebe Ochman

Phoebe Ochman, Director of Communications for Sleep Apnea Treatment Centers of America, manages all content and communications for the company.
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