With the state of the world being what it is, it’s no wonder the number of sleeping pill prescriptions is on the rise. Stress, worry, anxiety, fear of the unknown – all these things can contribute to poor sleeping patterns.
But are sleeping pills the answer?
While they are helpful for some people, there are many dangers to taking sleeping pills regularly. You know, other than the tales of still-sleeping folks cramming their faces with leftover spaghetti or taking an unconscious stroll (or drive!) to their neighborhood convenience store.
The Side Effects of Sleeping Pills Are No Joke
Don’t you just love those fast-paced, non-pausing rambling side effects on prescription drug commercials?
“May cause dry mouth, irritability, headache, increased appetite, decreased appetite, bloating, nausea, confusion, memory loss, skin growths, tooth decay, loss of extremities, uncontrollable bowel movements, insanity, or death.”
Yeah, sign me up for THAT.
The side effects of prescription sleeping pills are quite numerous themselves. While every sleep aid differs, here are some of the most common:
Drowsiness:Yes, you take sleep medication to make yourself tired. But if you don’t take them in conjunction with plenty of hours of sleep, then you may still have enough of the drug left in your system the next day to inhibit your ability to function well. That means driving or operating heavy machinery could be fatal. Not to mention those staff meetings are brutal when you just can’t seem to wake up.
Dependency:Many sleeping pills aren’t meant to be used forever. But, due to their addictive nature, many people continue using them well past the recommended timeframe. If you’ve been struggling to sleep well and you find the “magical pill” that helps you do so, it might be tough to give up.
When you take prescription sleep aid over a long period, you tend to build up a tolerance. That means you need to take progressively higher doses to help achieve that sleepiness you seek. This is extremely dangerous because a high enough douse could cause depressed breathing during your sleep cycle, resulting in death.
Sleepwalking:Here’s where those terrifying (sometimes hysterical) stories come into play. One common side effect of sleeping pills is sleepwalking or performing other activities while asleep. There are a disturbing number of incidents where people taking sleep medications end up eating everything in the fridge, driving a car, shaving their eyebrows, or confusing their computer for a toilet. (Ew.)
The actions aren’t even the disturbing part. It’s the fact that they have no recollection of ever doing them. That’s enough to make you think twice about popping those sleep aids, isn’t it?
Falling:Some sleep medications dull your body’s ability to sense your center of gravity. That means you physically might not be able to keep yourself upright. Older individuals are especially at risk for this sleeping pill side effect.
Gastrointestinal Issues:Like many prescription medications, one of the side effects of sleep aids is possible upset stomach, nausea, or diarrhea. If you have a sensitive stomach, it’s probably not a great idea to take sleeping pills since they can be pretty potent.
But those aren’t even the worst possible side effects. One 2012 study revealed a disturbing connection between sleep medication and cancer. That’s just one study, though, right?
Another 2018 study found that people who take sleeping pills are at risk of getting cancer or dying within the next two and a half years.
Uh, that’s a big red flag, no?
Okay, But What About OTC Sleeping Pills?
Over the counter sleep aids can be found in any pharmacy or grocery store, so they are a more practical option if you’re looking for a pill to help you sleep. However, OTC sleeping pills aren’t a magical cure for scoring some much-needed Z’s.
Most OTC sleep aids contain antihistamines, which cause drowsiness. So, in essence, you’re taking a pill designed to avoid allergic reactions, not necessarily aimed at helping you sleep.
Sounds a little sketchy, huh?
OTC sleep medication also has some similar side effects as their prescription counterparts. Taking them could cause drowsiness the following day or even provide you a lovely hangover effect. (Another ew.) And the longer you take them, the more tolerance you’ll have, causing you to require a ridiculously high dose.
Natural Supplements Are Safe OTC Sleeping Pill Alternatives, Right?
If you want to take a pill to help you sleep, then natural supplements are your safest bet. Although, some of these still come with annoying side effects:
Melatonin:Asyour body’s natural sleep-inducing hormone, Melatonin works well for a lot of people. However, some people report side effects like headaches or sleepiness during the day.
Valerian: This natural supplement derived from a plant is said to help you sleep. But, it also might come with a side of headaches, upset stomach, dizziness, and irritability.
Chamomile: You’re probably familiar with the daisy-like flower chamomile, which has been used for centuries to help promote sleep and relaxation. But let’s be real. If you’re having a ton of trouble sleeping, all the chamomile in the world isn’t likely to help cure insomnia.
Lavender: This fragrant flower has long been touted to promote relaxation. It might do that, but it’s not likely to cure your sleepless nights.
*Please consult your doctor or pharmacist before starting any OTC sleep aid routine.
The Best Natural Option for Sleeping Pills
You don’t have to take a pill to help you fall asleep. There are plenty of other tips and tricks to help you fall asleep and enjoy a great night’s rest.
What’s our favorite natural sleep remedy? That would be using a weighted blanket. Scientific research reveals that weighted blankets have excellent health benefits, including reducing anxiety and helping you achieve better sleep quality.
The Deep Pressure Stimulation (DPS) you receive when wrapped in or snuggled under a weighted blanket causes your body to create more melatonin and serotonin, helping you fall asleep faster. Of course, not all weighted blankets are alike.
To help achieve an excellent night’s sleep, look for a weighted blanket that:
Promotes optimal airflow to keep you cool while you sleep
Delivers the right amount of weight for your body size
Ensures satisfaction through quality construction and materials
Don’t buy just any weighted blanket as your natural sleep aid. Buy one that will keep you cool, comfortable, and well-rested.