I was watching a series on Hulu over the weekend and yes, even Hulu has commercials. 70% of them were for prescription and over the counter medication. One in particular that prompted this post was for a prescription for a sleeping pill for when you wake up in the middle of the night and can't go back to sleep. Of course I rolled my eyes, not at the concept that this doesn't happen, because it does, but that a medication has been pin-pointed to address yet another variable of sleep issues. It's really just a spin off from another very well known drug for sleep, but now it's able to target another market - and make yet another category of people think they are in need of serious medication.
But wait, it gets better. Now, it may or may not work for you, but how about taking a chance on some of these side effects, whether you sleep or not? 'Driving, eating, or engaging in other activities while not fully awake without remembering the event the next day have been reported. Other abnormal behaviors including being more outgoing or aggressive, as well as confusion, hallucinations, and agitation, may occur. Don’t take if you drank alcohol that day or before bed, as it may increase these behaviors. In depressed patients, worsening of depression, including risk of suicide may occur.' Wow where can I sign up? (yeah, sarcasm can't be helped)
Ok - I'll get to the real reason for this post. Pretty much EVERYONE has sleep issues from time to time. Some worse than others. I certainly hope you will talk to your doctor or health care provider about it. Using a mild sleeping pill for short periods or occasionally is not the end of the world, so I'm not condemning their use. However as a reasonable adult, I hope you have also checked into possible reasons for the sleeplessness as well as looking at safer options first!
I am one who has been dealing with sleep issues since I was 13! It comes and goes over the years but it's never far away and can spring up for long periods of time depending on what is happening in my life - physically or emotionally. When younger I can say it was worry and hormones. Both just seemed to make the other worse! Now as a full-fledged adult, when it happens I know what to look at in my life and make adjustments. And I always get better results! Usually it's a deficiency (calcium/magnesium or b vitamins), and of course the emotional aspect causes the mind to go 100 mph and we all know how this can cause sleeplessness.
What has helped me and others I work with, in no particular order:
- Stress: Even if you think you are stress free - think again! So many of us are programmed that our 'taking care of regular business' is 'normal' we don't even know what stress is anymore unless it's a big wake up call! Work, family, health, money, relationships - you name it...something is always going on that can affect the nervous system. And it doesn't have to be bad 'stuff' - it can be the good/exciting stuff that can cause underlying problems too. Noticing it is one thing..the other is to take some time out for yourself daily to keep it from affecting you physically or emotionally. I use meditation, walking/nature, reading, yoga, massage, a sauna, a fun movie, a new restaurant - something used regularly to help diffuse any upsets that may otherwise take hold.
- Deficiencies: As I mentioned calcium and magnesium are key. James F Balch, M.D. (author of Prescriptions for Nutritional Healing) has written that - "A lack of the nutrients calcium & magnesium can cause you to wake up after a few hours and not go back to sleep". And with B vitamins, specifically B12 - from Dr. Mercola - "Without adequate blood levels of B12 you can experience low energy, mental fatigue, mood changes and sleep difficulties." - So start taking all 3 if you aren't already!
- Stop worrying about it : Not sleeping, that is. This was hard to do at first. All we hear are how important sleep is (yes, I know it is) but worrying about only makes it worse, trust me I KNOW! lol Instead start telling yourself you will catch up on sleep this week, and in the meantime - after lying there a while with no luck, just get up and read or watch TV for a while and then try again. Giving myself permission NOT to worry about it has allowed me to make up for lost sleep much easier now, than the days when I constantly worried and kept track of 'how much sleep I wasn't getting'.
- Safe Supplements : Most have heard of Melatonin, which is a hormone produced in the body to help with sleep and wake cycles. If deficient you can benefit from using it before bed. GABA is another helpful supplement and is an amino acid prevalent in the brain which helps to calm excited nerve impulses. Can also be helpful if you are deficient.
- Herbs: There are so many safe herbs to consider for calming and relaxation - I hope you will give them a try if you need them. You can try one at a time or a combination of herbs that work together for a more potent effect. Herbs like Scullcap, Chamomile, Hops, Valerian, Black Cohosh, Passion Flower and Wood Betony are just a few I have used with good results. You will be able to find them in liquid, capsule or loose tea - so any preference is available for use! I have sleep and nerve calming formulas that can be used for various concerns, so don't hesitate to ask for more info.
These are all very effective ways to improve your sleep habits. Each person is different and there are variables for everyone...ie other health concerns, hormone imbalances etc. Bottom line is to know natural help is and always has been available! Any way I can help, just ask!