Monday, November 23, 2009

How to Go to Sleep Easy

So many people complain about not getting enough sleep at night. More than 1/4th of all Americans can’t sleep due to stress over their finances according to the National Sleep Foundation. If you didn’t get your 40 winks last night, here are some tips and techniques, over-the-counter medications, prescription drugs and natural sleep supplements on how to go to sleep easy.

Tips and Techniques

First of all since we need to turn off the stress factor, we must prepare our body and our mind when it is time to retire. Having a routine will allow our body to become tired at the same time each night so we can wake without an alarm, alert and ready for the day. Not only do we need to go to bed at the same time we need to get ready for bed at the same time…start your nightly routine at least an hour before you actually go to bed. Have a cup of decaf Sleepy Time tea, take a warm bath, read a book, brush your teeth with PearlyDreams toothpaste and/or get in comfortable nonrestrictive pajamas.

Don’t exercise as it will cause your heart rate to increase and your body will over heat. If you do exercise, allow at least 3-4 hours before you retire. Avoid alcohol as it doesn’t provide the quality of sleep you need. Refrain from drinking too many liquids especially caffeinated beverages, as they will either keep you awake or wake you up during the night with the urge to go to the bathroom. No large meals or spicy food as this might cause indigestion, heartburn and acid reflux. Stop watching TV, using your computer or playing video games as they will most likely make you stay up too late or keep your mind racing….how am I going to beat the monster in Super Mario?

Your bedroom is a haven for sleep and intimate relations only. Make sure it’s dark enough for you to produce melatonin. Melatonin is produced in the body naturally and controls our wake/sleep cycles. If you don’t have enough melatonin it can cause insomnia. You can purchase melatonin at your pharmacy or local health food store. If you are travelling and can’t control the light in your room an eye mask may be beneficial. Also if external noises are keeping you awake consider purchasing a white noise machine, sleep music or ear plugs. A fan will work just as well to drown out noise.

If you like to nap, limit your nap time to just 20 minutes, because if you sleep too long you will have a harder time falling asleep when you should.

Over-the-Counter (OTC) Sleep Aides

Nytol or Sominex contain antihistamine an ingredient usually for allergies. These OTCs also contain an active ingredient, diphenhydramine which is known to make you drowsy. The FDA has approved these mediations to be used for sleep aides. Even though they are not addictive and don’t require a doctor’s prescription, they do have side effects such as; dry mouth, constipation, urinary retention and blurred vision. It is not recommended to drive or operate heavy machinery. Men with large prostates should avoid them, because the drugs may inhibit their ability to urinate. Serious drug interactions – such as severe headaches and dangerous blood pressure spikes – can occur with certain MAO inhibitor antidepressants: isocarboxazid (Marplan), phenelzine (Nardil) and tranylcypromine (Parnate). Lastly, don’t combine with other sedatives (narcotic pain medication, older antihistamine and muscle relaxants) with alcohol.

Unisom or Doxylamine is another anti-allergy medication. It’s sold over-the-counter as a sleep aid Unisom, but it's also in other cold/allergy products, including Nyquil. Side effects include; dry mouth, constipation, urinary retention and blurred vision. Again, men with enlarged prostates should avoid it.

Prescription Sleep Aides

Ambien CR is a very popular drug which helps you to fall asleep fast (5-30 minutes) and also helps you to stay asleep.

Ambien is addictive try not to take it nightly or use it just for long airplane rides. Don’t take it with alcohol it will only enhance the side effects and slow your heart rate down. NEVER crush or chew as it is a time release medication and taking the entire dose could be lethal. Some bizarre side effects have been reported with Ambien. Hundreds of people claim to experience hallucinations and amnesia. Some people make phone calls, drive cars, others binge on food and one woman even painted her front door – all while sleeping!

Such problems appear to be more common in elderly people. The manufacturer denies Ambien is to blame, but the medication literature contains warnings.

Sonata is another popular prescription drug in the same class as Ambien. It will help you to fall asleep fast, but you may still experience waking during the night. Sonata works within 15-30 minutes, but will not be as effective if you eat a large or high fat dinner. Do to some bizarre behaviors associated with Sonata, it is not recommended for those that have a history of mental illness, depression or have suicidal thoughts. This medication is habit forming.

Restoril and Xanax are older drugs also called benzodiazepines or benzos. Other drugs in this class are Valium and Ativan. Benzos are known to help you snooze (30-60 minutes) but you may skip your deep sleep cycle, so it doesn’t provide you with the sleep you deserve. Benzos are addictive and they may leave you with a “fuzzy head” feeling in the morning that might last until noon (depending when you get up).

Rozerem affects your sleep/wake cycle as it mimics melatonin. Rozerem a prescription is stronger than the supplemental melatonin thus causes us to fall asleep faster (5-30 minutes) and stay asleep. Rozerem is not addictive but shouldn’t be used if you have severe liver damage, a history of alcoholism or take Luvox (a popular medication for obsessive compulsive disorder).

Rozerem also may decrease testosterone levels and increase prolactin levels.

Natural Supplemental Sleep Aides

Melatonin will put us to sleep, but also wakes us up when it is morning, therefore helps those that wake up during the night. I recommend synthetic melatonin supplements, because natural types are extracted from the brains of cows, raising concern for mad cow disease. Most U.S. manufacturers sell synthetic versions. Another reason to take melatonin are for those with multiple sclerosis and breast cancer as further studies suggest that this hormone will balance the immune system. Not recommended for anyone suffering from depression.

Valerian is one nasty smelling and tasting herb, but it helps you to fall asleep faster, stay asleep, reduces nightmares, curbs anxiety, helps those suffering from insomnia and is not addictive. Valerian is best taken in capsule form instead of a tincture or tea due to the taste. Valerian has been used to ease withdrawal symptoms from other drugs. Do not use valerian in connection with benzo drugs as both act on the same brain cells and could enhance the sedative effects.

NutraMist Sleep Now an oral OTC spray delivers an herbal blend into your bloodstream and will help you to fall asleep within 15 – 30 minutes. Its ingredients are melatonin, valerian root, chamomile and green tea extract, among other herbs.

Passionflower Extract reduces restlessness and is known for its tranquilizing properties. Aides in easing abdominal cramps (menstruation cramps) and anxiety, it is also linked to improvements in nerve pain, asthma, diarrhea and epilepsy. One study points to some anti-cancer benefits as well. As with other supplemental sleep aides do not drive, combine with alcohol, mix with other sleep medications and don’t take more than the recommended dosage.

Gaba is a hormone available in an OTC supplement and sold in health food stores. Gaba will slow down bodily functions and help those with sleep disorders, anxiety or with chronic pain.

Other Sleep Aide Alternatives

  • Yoga or meditation
  • Subliminal message tapes or CDs
  • Self Hypnotic CDs
  • Massages
  • Acupuncture
  • Teas such as Decaf Sleepy Time Tea

With any sleep aid medication or alternative method, please consult with your physician before trying them. Not getting the required hours of sleep at night might cause you to have other health issues. Your physician may recommend that you see a sleep specialist for further treatment. The content provided in How to go to Sleep Easy is for information purposes only, intended to raise the awareness of different solutions for your sleep problems and should not be considered medical advice. For medical diagnosis and treatment, please see your qualified health-care professional.
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  1. Trying to find out where NutraMist Sleep Now Oral Spray can be purchased. Bought it originally at a Walgreens. They no longer carry it. Who does or is this product still being made?


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