I was reminded this past weekend of the dangers associated with sleep medications. A personal friend of mine relayed a story of his in which he slept walked and ate an entire meal in the middle of the night. Worse yet, he has no memory of this event. He was only made aware of it when his wife informed him of how she found him and brought him back to bed.
My friend’s story is rather benign but not unique. There are even cases of “sleep-driving” in which individuals drive off in their cars unaware, sometimes with deadly consequences. In fact, car crash risk doubles for new users of sleeping pills. These events are common but not exclusive for the number one sleep medication, Ambien. This particular side effect, although not the only one, is one the FDA has warned consumers about for over a decade, yet Americans are dying (in some cases literally) for a good nights sleep!
I have many patients who come to my office for sleep-related disorders. Many times it’s a simple case of chronic stress, adrenal fatigue, or circadian rhythm disorder. In all instances, the condition can be resolved without Ambien or other pharmaceuticals. Whatever the root cause of the sleep disorder, it is not a lack of Ambien in a person’s system causing the problem.
Everyone is capable of quality sleep but due to modern life, many have forgotten how to achieve this necessary rest. This is a true problem as sleep is required for a host of functions that keep us healthy. A few of sleep’s health boosting benefits include:
- Boosting memory – regenerates brain support cells to solidify memory
- Reducing inflammation – the body clears damaged cells and other waste while sleeping
- Promoting optimal hormone balance – necessary for metabolism, weight loss/gain, energy, attention, and many other daily functions
- Improving emotional well being
- Improving immune function
- Improving athletic performance
- Improving sexual function
- Reducing incidences of headaches/migraines/heart disease/diabetes/cancer and many other diseases
How does one resolve sleep related issues that are chronic or acute?
- Do not eat food after 8pm – this blunts melatonin secretion and the hormonal cascade can not proceed as required
- Attempt to reduce unnatural light at sundown. Reduce blue light as much as possible. Use apps on mobile devices and computers that eliminate blue light if you must use them. TV screens that cover your TV can be purchased that remove all blue light as well.
- Do not wait until midnight to go to sleep. Optimal times for bed are no later than 9pm during winters months, 11pm during summer months. Many people do not come close to these times but when they make this simple time switch see drastic changes in their health, even a change of only 1 hour.
- Limit alcohol intake in the evening. Although I do not condone excessive consumption (beyond a glass or two a day) it is better to drink during the day than the evening as alcohol will knock you out but its effects on specific hormones do not allow for truly restful sleep.
- There are additional supplements that can be used to resolve sleep that work much better and more safely than pharmaceuticals. Contact us to learn more about these specific supplements as attempting to utilize and dose them without medical supervision is not advised. Melatonin, a common OTC supplement for sleep, is a hormone that should not be used as a sleep aid. It can be used to reset circadian clocks, making it great for traveling over time zones, but as a sleep aid should not be used long term.
If you have questions, contact us for more information on how to naturally resolve sleep disorders for optimal health.