What can I take to help me sleep

I will go over a few things that you can take to help with sleep, from decades of personal experience.

About 10% of the population gets too little sleep. Women most often suffer from sleep deprivation. Most people need between six to nine hours of sleep per day. Sleep is important, for body, mind and general well-being. Long term sleep problems can contribute to a lowered quality of life.

If you suspect you have a sleep disorder, a sleep specialist can confirm if you are correct – and make a detailed medical examination to find the source of your sleep problem.

Insomnia is usually the most common sleep disorder and it means you have a hard time going to sleep or that you have a hard time staying asleep. Usually, you will know if you are experiencing insomnia because you will remember tossing and turning or being awake at night.

Insomnia can be caused by fear, anxiety, stress, medications, herbs, depression, caffeine or other mental conditions and sometimes for no apparent reason. An overactive imagination or physical pain can also be causes. Finding the underlying cause of insomnia is necessary to cure it.

Medication that can be taken for insomnia are both prescriptions and over the counter.

Benzodiazepines – The most commonly-used class of drugs prescribed for insomnia. Includes drugs such as diazepam, and lorazepam.

Non-benzodiazepine prescription drugs – Drugs such as Ambien and Lunesta. These drugs have a fewer side effects than benzodiazepines but do appear to cause psychological and physical dependence.

Melatonin – A hormone that has proved effective for many insomniacs in regulating the sleeping – waking cycle.

Over-the-counter sleep aids – Many of these sleep aids use the antihistamine diphenhydramine. The effectiveness of these aids often decreases over time and next-day sedation is common.

There are herbs that are known to be helpful for people having sleeping problems. One common herbal sleep aid is Valerian which has been used for years in Europe as being helpful with insomnia. It is approved for sell in the United States as a dietary supplement only. It is not known how this sleep aid works, but studies have shown that it does help with insomnia, as well as stress, and often as an aid in helping people who are trying to discontinue the use of benzodiazepines (a class of prescription medications for anxiety and panic attacks). There are side effects reported, so before taking this herbal aid, you should discuss with your pharmacist mixing Valerian with any other prescription or over the counter drugs that you might be taking. The root is the part that is used in herbal sleep aids, and side effects of headaches and night terror have been reported. The oil of this root has the odor of cat urine, so the most popular way to take Valerian is as a pill, rather than a tea made from the liquid. Your breath will smell like kitty litter for awhile and it will drive your cats crazy – so be warned.

Sleeping pills or aids should never be taken before speaking with your doctor about your sleeping problems.

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