A good night’s sleep is one of the most important and enjoyable pleasures. Proper sleep has a profound effect on one’s outlook on life, productivity, joy, energy and health. In today’s society, there are more distractions, more noises, more people in closer quarters, more work commitments and more reasons why it’s harder to get good sleep. Between one-third and one-half of the American population suffers from insomnia. In the over-medicated America we’ve grown accustomed to, many of those might be considering taking sleeping pills. However, there are risks behind these so-called saviors of sufficient sleep.
What are Sleeping Pills
Most sleeping pills are classified as being a “sedative hypnotic”. Some, like Xanax are actual psychiatric pharmaceuticals that have mind-altering effects and side effects (such as suicide). Xanax is a benzodiazepine, a class of drug used for anxiety. These drugs also increase drowsiness, but are addictive. Barbiturates are another type of sleeping pill that depress the central nervous system. Barbiturates are often used for anesthesia.
See chart with some of the dangerous effects of these drugs:
With that, here are 5 dangers of sleeping pill addiction.
Sleeping Aides – Not a “Real” Drug
It’s not uncommon for people to think of sleeping pills as a less-intense drug or a less harmful drug like aspirin. But sleeping pills, as mentioned above, are sedatives. Some have mind-altering effects and can be addictive. These are not drugs that should be self-prescribed based off a few bad nights of sleep.
It’s Not an Addiction – It’s just Sleeping Problems
In the same vein as classifying sleeping pills as minor drugs to diminish the problem, taking sleeping pills nightly has a built in justification for allowing addiction. With the multitude of causes for lack of sleep, it’s understandable that help might be needed for days or weeks. But there lies the problem. How does one know when they have a problem falling asleep or whether they have a sleeping pill addiction? Sleeping pill addiction is a major problem because it can be a hidden addiction.
Do Not Operate
One of the most well known side effects of sleeping pills is the unintended drowsiness that follows the person after they awake. The sedative nature of sleeping pills takes a much larger toll on the body than just a night of sleep. People taking sleeping pills are not supposed to operate heavy machinery or drive after taking sleeping pills. These warnings are due to drowsiness as well as the dizziness, balance issues and inability to completely control the extremities. An addiction with these side effects can alter one’s livelihood. The choice is made to work around these side effects or continue on dangerously trying to overcome the side effects.
Sleeping Pill Side Effects are Similar to Insomnia
Sleeping pills have a side effect that can make it hard to think, produce or perform. These also happen to be the effects that most sleeping pill addicts are trying to combat by taking sleeping pills. So what benefit is taken from these pills?
Unaided Sleeping Can Get Worse
Finally, a major effect of sleeping pill addiction is the greater sleep problems when taken off of the drugs. Like most drugs, the body becomes accustomed to the effects of the chemicals and becomes dependent and expectant of those drugs. When those drugs are taken out of the system, the body has much harsher reactions. It’s withdrawal and it shows that taking sleeping pills isn’t doing anything for the body to actually handle the sleeping problems.
Alternatives to Sleeping Pills
With this data on sleeping pills, taking drugs to get to bed might not seem wise. Is the promise of a good night sleep worth a morning of drowsiness and sickness, the possible addiction or the withdrawal? What else could help?
Get on a standard sleep cycle. Continually going to bed and waking up at the same time will get the body used to the schedule and expect sleep when you go to sleep.
Don’t eat before bed. Especially sugar or caffeine later in the night. These are foods that will stimulate the body and make it hard to sleep.
Lastly, try natural sleep aids like tryptophan or chamomile tea that have been used for years and years. And if you’re still not convinced, here is another graphic with some other problems caused by taking sleeping pills:
The Dark Side of Sleeping Pills – http://www.darksideofsleepingpills.com/ch2.html
WebMD.com – Understanding the Side Effects of Sleeping Pills – http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/guide/understanding-the-side-effects-of-sleeping-pills