There are many of us who – when suffering from insomnia or other sleep loss related conditions – turn to prescription medications as a means of helping bring about a decent night’s sleep.
Why Use Sleep Medications?
Sleeping pills are usually only a short-term option if you suffer from Insomnia. Your doctor may prescribe them to you for a course of seven days or more depending on the severity of the Insomnia and whether or not he or she can find the root cause of the problem.
Sleeping pills are used for that reason and that reason alone; it is important to remember that they are not a long term solution to the problem of Insomnia, merely a ‘stop gap’ during which your body and mind are afforded the opportunity to relax.
Do I Need Prescribed Sleep Medications?
This is really the question for your GP has to answer for you. If you have not slept for a period of time and there are absolutely no circumstances under which you can sleep then it is certainly time to consult your doctor. He or she will first try and ascertain why the Insomnia is occurring.
Your doctor may ask if you are:
- Suffering from stress
- Using other medications (prescribed or otherwise)
- Using any drug that is considered illegal
- Consuming more than normal levels of alcohol
- Living with someone suffering from stress
He or she will also go back over your medical history to try and pinpoint any illnesses or medical conditions currently ongoing which may have Insomnia as one of their symptoms.
Sleep Medications and Their Side Effects
As with all medications those taken to aid sleep have their own side effects, some of which amount to nothing more than a minor irritation during the course of taking them, some of which have more serious ramifications.
Some of the side effects commonly associated with sleeping pills are:
- Prolonged Drowsiness
- Facial Swelling
- Water Retention
- Muscle Spasms or Cramps
Again your GP will discuss with you the side effects of such medications and it is important that whilst consulting them you are honest with your answers. For example if you suffer from depression or perhaps drink a little more alcohol than normal you should make them aware of these facts.
Over The Counter Medications
There are now a wide variety of over the counter sleeping remedies available but again if you are in any doubt as to their effectiveness or any side effects they have you must first consult with your GP who will give you their opinion as to whether or not this is a good idea. Your pharmacist will also be able to offer advice but you should always consult your GP when considering the consumption of any medication, especially if you have not had cause to administer it before.
Many of the over the counter medications are herbal and offer only short term benefit; this is simply because that as over the counter medicines they are limited to the actual amount of pharmaceutical components they can have in them.
What to Avoid Whilst Sleep Medicated
If your GP has prescribed you with a sleep medication then you should be aware that there are some things it is best to avoid consuming and indeed avoid doing.
- Driving whilst using sleep medication
- Consuming larger than normal quantities of alcohol
- Taking other medications without first seeking advice
- Consuming meals containing high fat contents
- Operating heavy machinery
It is worth noting that if you consume meals which contain high quantities of fat then the sleep medication is less likely to work effectively as it will take longer to be absorbed into the body.
As with all medications and conditions that involve the use of medications you should always consult with your GP and do not consent to the use of any other individual’s medication – those that may work for others may not work for you and could cause you a whole host of other problems.