Sleep aids are nothing new and are by far one of the most used medications across the globe. The type of sleep aid can range from over-the-counter options and supplements to ones you only get with a script from your doctor. Sleepless nights, especially if they are frequent can interfere with work, self-care, and even relationships. Even so, it is highly recommended that you weigh the risks against the benefits of taking any OTC or pharmaceutical medication. Know that both can be harmful if taken for long periods of time, but we will focus on prescription versions in this post. Of course, this is not professional medical advice, but here are some things to consider:
Sleep Aids Can Create Dependency
All medications are types of drugs and can be adverse to your system, as well as creative dependency. Sleep aids can be particularly harmful because typically you take them every night. They give an effective sense of calm, though fabricated, and you’re able to fall asleep quickly. Unfortunately, dependence on these pills can happen fairly soon after starting them. And, discontinuing use, once you’re dependent, can make sleep disorders even worse as your body adjusts to not having the drug.
In most cases, dependence on sleep aids does not occur if only taken for a short period of time. However, some types like benzodiazepines can create a problem if used long-term. In some cases, a patient might need intervention or an inpatient drug treatment center stay to overcome a serious dependency. Even if the withdrawal is mild, it can feel uncomfortable, depending on the type of drug being used.
The Source of the Problem Can Get Missed
Sleep disorders, just like any other health concern, have a root cause. In many cases, it can be a response to elevated stress or other emotional concerns. This is why taking sleep medication for longer than a couple of weeks can be harmful by making it easier to ignore the real problem. That said, the inability to get to sleep can also be equally harmful, so your doctor must weigh out the pros and cons.
You Can Build a Tolerance to Them
A lot of sleep aids will work well when you initially start taking them. However, after a few weeks or months of using them, your body can develop a tolerance. It’s like drinking alcohol – the more you drink it, the more you need to have the same effect. So, sleep aids can basically stop working, putting you back to square one. As a result, you’ve wasted a lot of money and time on a solution that hasn’t made a real difference in overall health.
Overall, making the decision to take prescription sleep aids is one that needs to be made carefully and with the advice of your healthcare provider. He/she can help you to understand all of the risks and benefits of various types of medications. I have taken several different kinds of sleep aids in the past and have found that they are not a good thing to do for longer than a couple of weeks. Be aware and do what’s best for your specific situation.