Strong sleeping pills are all over the web, and this should come as no surprise given the fact that up to 22% of Americans suffer from insomnia and other sleep disorders, but how effective are they? In the short term, these pills may provide benefits, and if your goal is just to get a good night’s sleep, it’s probably all you’re concerned about. But it’s important you learn the effects of these pills both short and long term and what alternatives are available.
Before exploring the alternatives, a deeper understanding of these pills is in order, and why they pose a risk.
Are Pharmaceutical Pills Addictive?
Yes, these pills can be addictive. First of all, these type of pills are sedative hypnotics, and consist of different drugs like barbiturates and benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepines in particular are widely used because they make you feel drowsy and sleepy, but while it is useful for short term, it has addictive properties.
Barbiturates work on your central nervous system and like benzodiazepines can be addictive and produce other side effects. These include:
- Unusual dreams
- Physical weakness
- Difficulty thinking
- Uncontrollable shaking
- Loss of memory
- Difficulty paying attention
- Dry throat or mouth
The more powerful the pill is, the more pronounced the side effects are. Apart from those already mentioned, daytime drowsiness is very common as is the inability to keep balanced, diarrhea, constipation and changes in appetite.
One of the more dangerous side effects of powerful sleeping pills is parasomnia, a condition wherein actions and behaviors are performed but you have no control, such as sleepwalking, eating, going out of the house or even driving. Under this condition, you will have no memory of performing these actions.
Parasomnia is a complex disorder and is generally rare, but it’s a fact that taking powerful sleeping medications can trigger this condition. Unfortunately, not all OTC pills issue warnings about this danger.
Can These Pills Induce Allergies?
Yes, strong sleeping pills can and do produce allergic reactions. Some of the signs are the following:
- Blurry vision or any sort of vision problem
- Swelling of the tongue, eyes, lips or throat
- Shortness of breath
- Skin rashes
- Heartbeat is pounding
- Difficulty swallowing
- Chest pain
A potentially fatal allergic reaction is anaphylaxis, or an acute allergic reaction, or angioedema, which leads to severe swelling of the face. For this reason, you need to consult your doctor if you plan to take any of these kind of pills.
Sleeping Medications and Alcohol
Pharmaceutical-based sleeping aids also interact negatively with alcohol, because when the two are mixed, the sedative properties of the pill are increased to the point that it can be fatal. But it isn’t just alcohol, because some pills are incompatible with fruit juices because it increases the volume of the drug that ends up in your bloodstream.
But as many health experts will point out, one of the most dangerous aspects of these kind of pills is the aforementioned potential for addiction. Your doctor may prescribe a pill for short term use, but it’s well known that many people become psychologically dependent on it, and become afraid they won’t be able to sleep without it.
Is There an Alternative to These Dangerous Pills?
Given all the potential side effects that these pills can produce, it’s understandable why many people are hesitant to use them. But to answer the question, yes there are alternatives, and they are called natural sleeping pills. They are referred to as natural because they use only natural ingredients like melatonin and 5 HTP, natural hormones and substances that won’t affect your bodily functions.
There are a lot of different pills around, but one ingredient you should always check is melatonin, the hormone that controls the body’s sleep cycle. By taking supplements with melatonin, your body temperature will go down at night, making you feel drowsy and sleepy. Not only will you fall asleep faster, but you’ll wake up feeling better and alert the next morning.
Snacking Before Bedtime
Ideally your last meal has to be two hours before sleeping so your body has sufficient time to digest the food, but some health experts do recommend sleepy time snacks provided it is rich in carbohydrates and protein. According to the Sleep-Wake Disorders Center at Montefiore Medical Center in Bronx, New York, a snack consisting of cheese with whole wheat cracker 30 minutes before bedtime will help you sleep.
However, you must not eat anything too heavy because it will take a long time for your body to digest it. If you have the urge to eat, just make sure it is rich in protein and carbohydrates, but don’t consume too much.
In addition to snacks, there are indications that magnesium also plays a pivotal role in inducing sleep. Based on the available research, lack of magnesium affects the body’s sleep cycle and keeps the brain from releasing melatonin and “shutting down” for the night. The good news is you can get magnesium from a variety of foods including fruits, vegetables, almonds, pumpkin seeds and nuts. Magnesium is also available in supplemental form.
You will also find lavender oil extract in various supplements because it promotes sleep, especially among those who are suffering from insomnia. It will also help if you take a lavender oil bath prior to going to sleep as it calms the body and mind.
Researchers have also determined that the valerian root, an old medicinal herb, promotes sleep as well and has a safe, natural sedative effect. L-theanine, an amino acid extracted from green tea leaves, plays an important role in reducing stress and managing the heart, both of which affect the sleep cycle. Basically, what valerian root does is release “feel good” hormones in your body, leading to relaxation.
There are a lot of natural sleeping aids available, but in terms of power and potency, nothing comes close to Lunar Sleep. This is a natural sleeping aid that contains GABA, 5 HTP and melatonin, and the three work together to induce sleep without the side effects that strong sleeping pills produce.