Discuss sleep medication options with your pharmacist
Sleep, marvelous sleep. It’s one of those things you might take for granted - that is, until it eludes you.
The amount of sleep needed is dependent on age and varies from individual to individual. Newborns can sleep away three-fourths of the day. Toddlers and preschoolers need 11 to 14 hours of sleep each day. The amount of sleep needed gradually declines until adulthood when most people require around 7 to 8 hours. Seniors may find their sleeping patterns fluctuate due to changes associated with aging.
You might be surprised to learn that seniors aren’t the only ones who struggle with a sound night’s sleep. According to the National Institute of Health more than 70 million Americans experience insomnia. That is, they have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or they wake up before they have gotten enough sleep.
You might find your sleep interrupted by night sweats during menopause. A bed partner’s snoring might be keeping you awake. Conditions such as restless leg syndrome and sleep apnea are more serious in nature. Restless leg syndrome is a neurological disorder that causes uncomfortable sensations in the legs. Sleep apnea is a serious breathing disorder marked by loud snoring and periods when breathing brieflly stops. You need to seek treatment for problems like these.
No matter the cause, it can’t hurt to discuss your sleep problems with your doctor or me. I can go over the list of medications or supplements you are taking to see if any could be interfering with your sleep. Some common culprits are antihypertensives, beta-blockers, and hormones.
Decongestants taken too close to bedtime or long acting, 24 hour decongestants can pose a problem. Even common pain relievers can be a problem since some contain caffeine. Never stop taking any prescription medication without first discussing it with your doctor.
You can do many other things to improve your sleep. For starters, try to keep regular bedtimes and wake times, even on the weekend. Use your bedroom only for sleep. To prepare your body for sleep avoid stimulating activities and substances during the evening hours. This includes alcohol, heavy eating, especially spicy or high sugar foods, fluids, nicotine, and caffeine.
Exercise is good for you, but separate it from bedtime by at least a few hours. Make the time right before bed really relaxing with calming activities and soft lighting. Wearing earplugs or an eye mask, using a fan, or heavy curtains may also create an environment more conducive to sleep. If you use a night light make sure it’s not too bright.
If you feel you have done everything “right” and you still have trouble sleeping, you may want to talk to your doctor about other ways to promote sleep, such as relaxation techniques or behavorial therapy. Over the counter sleep aids such as valerian or melatonin might also prove to be helpful.
If all else fails, prescription sleep medications may be an option if your insomnia is interfering with your daily activities. Your doctor or I can discuss potential choices with you. Anxiolytics can ease anxiety that may be interfering with sleep. Antidepressants are helpful if depression is a problem and are also used to help sleep patterns even when depression is not a problem. Hypnotics are prescription medications that promote sleep.
Seek advice before considering either prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) sleep medications. If any side effects occur from medications always make sure to discuss these with your doctor or me.
I hope this helps you have many hours of sleep, marvelous sleep.