Breaking the Dependence on Sleeping Aids

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The current trend towards popping pills to solve problems rather than having them checked by a medical professional is seen as a negative development by the medical community. This is particularly true if there is a lack of sleep involved, because the insomnia could be just the first sign of an even worse problem.

sleeping aids

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There are numerous sleeping aids available in the market, likely because people tend to have so much trouble sleeping. A lack of sleep can come about for a variety of reasons such as having work-related stress and insomnia. There are other reasons and, as some people have speculated, anything and everything can be interpreted as a cause for lack of sleep. Of course, the prevalence of this problem is fueling the steady market for sleeping aids. However, with a market that is near the saturation point, just what are the chances that the sleeping aids being sold are actually safe to use? For now, safety guidelines and the approval of the US Food and Drug Administration would have to suffice.

A lack of sleep can be the problem itself, or the symptom of a larger, more expansive problem. Insomnia is just as likely to be an outcrop of depression as it is a symptom of other, more dangerous mood and behavioral disorders. Ideally, people who have trouble sleeping should see a medical professional to be properly assessed. The need to know if their problem is really just a lack of sleep or if there’s something else beneath the surface.

The availability and popular consumption of various medications has spawned what others call the “pill culture.” People are becoming increasingly willing to turn to a convenient pill to solve an obvious problem without seeing a professional to check if there are other problems. Everything from pain medication, muscle relaxants, and sleeping aids can end up as part of this problem.

Recently, a new perspective on sleep disorders was put forth by a team of researchers led by Dr. Jesse Milby from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Milby considers sleeping problems as a lack of “sleep hygiene.” According to a research project he and his colleagues from UAB conducted, there are several things people routinely do that contributes to the development of the sleeping problem. His data showed that using the bed for nothing more than sleep and sexual activity helped improve people’s sleep cycles and reduced the severity of their insomnia, even without medication. That means no reading, no “hard” conversations, no doing taxes, or any other activities people might be inclined to do in bed. The problem, he noted, was that the process often took longer than the average person was comfortable with. With more and more people turning to medication to get a quick fix for their sleep problems, Milby believes society is risking making their sleeping problems much worse.

The problem, UAB internist and palliative-medicine specialist Rodney Tucker noted, was that people who could not deal with the stress of daily life were seen as “needing a pill.” There is a prevalent belief that everyone can deal with all the problems being thrown at them when this is simply not the case. The perception that taking a pill can fix their problems, along with the unwillingness to let go of established personal routines and invest time in personal therapy, has caused more and more people to become dependent on sleeping aids. It allows them to avoid having to deal with the harsh reality of having a problem and the need to rectify the situation, which is likely to do more harm than good in the long-term.