Giving Up the Pill for My Health and Better Results in the Bed (or Wherever You Do It)

So my fiance would probably call me a bit of a pill popper.  I have taken pills to wake up, to diet, to grow my hair, and who knows for what else.  To add to my list of pills, sleeping pills are something that I have had a on again, off again relationship with over the last few years.  Between working crazy hours and having a brain that just won't shut down at the end of the night, often times it seems as though a sleeping pill is the cure to all of my problems.

Unfortunately, they could of created more problems.


My mother, who is a serious insomniac, has always been resistant to taking sleeping pills despite never being able to sleep long periods of time.  She would always tell me how addictive they are and how she's had weird responses to them in the past.  It always seems as if everything is an addiction with my mother and everything she does is weird, you know, because she is my mother.

However, after hearing Chelsea Handler frequently make remarks about the crazy things that happen when people take Ambien and my own disappointing results with various over the counter sleeping pills; my mother may be [insert deep breath, then sigh] actually right.  A mother being right?  Who would of ever thought a parent would know better than their child.



 According to Helpguide.com, sleeping pills have quite a few side effects:
Side effects. Side effects can be severe and include prolonged drowsiness the next day, confusion, forgetfulness and dry mouth.



Drug tolerance. You may have to take more and more of the sleep aid for it to work, which in turn can lead to more side effects.


Drug dependence. You may come to rely on sleeping pills to sleep, and will be unable to sleep or have even worse sleep without them.


Withdrawal symptoms. If you stop the medication abruptly, you may have withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, sweating and shaking.


Drug interactions. Sleeping pills can interact with other medications. This can worsen side effects and be dangerous, especially with prescription painkillers and other sedatives.


Rebound insomnia. If you need to stop taking sleeping pills, sometimes the insomnia can become even worse than before.


Masking an underlying problem. There may be an underlying medical or mental disorder, or even a sleep disorder, causing your insomnia that can’t be treated with sleeping pills.
There are plenty of stories on the web of people doing bizarre things while on sleeping pills and having no recollection of what happened: sex, binge eating, texting, etc.  What is so crazy is that despite their sleep behaviors, people still continue to take it because they can't go to sleep otherwise.

So what else can one do other than take a pill to help get to sleep?  I know that often exercise is thrown around to help with sleep.  Maybe it is just me, but most of the insomniacs I know aren't the ones hitting the gym on a regular basis hence why they a looking for a sleep aid. 

Here are a few things, that have worked for me since getting off of the pill:

Sleeping Mist

Usually consisting of lavender and/or chamomile, sleeping mist is one of the first things I go for when I need help sleeping.  While lavender and chamomile don't exactly make you go to sleep, they do calm the nervous system and cause you to relax.  Often with insomnia, people have too much on the brain or are too stressed to be calm/relaxed enough for sleep.


DRINKS

Chamomile tea is also a route you could go if you don't want to spray your bed down with scent.  It will give you the same result as the spray and may even be cheaper (depending on where you purchase it).  Another option is warm milk.  I personally think it is nasty and refuse to try it, but my mother insists that it works for her and if it works for her then there must be something behind it.  According to WebMD, the jury is still out about warm milk but there seems to be a consistent belief  that it does help induce sleep.

Sleeping Masks

Lastly, the sleeping mask.  I'm sure a lot of people have seen movies of the spoiled rich girl who goes to sleep with her sleeping mask and may not think much about it.  However, eye masks can be a great sleeping aid.  According to the National Sleep Foundation "a dark bedroom contributes to better sleep. Try light-blocking curtains, drapes or an eye mask." Lights from phones, alarms, computers, and televisions can actually help prevent the brain from shutting down.  Light blocking curtains, like the ones at really nice hotels, are a little too pricey for my budget.  Therefore, the mask is a great option, they come in different materials and styles and you can buy them in the most random of places.  I prefer mine to be made of satin material and to fight snug, but to each their own.

Sweet Dreams Everyone:-)

The sleep spray pictured above is from Bath and Body Works
Bigelow's tea is sold at most groceries stores
The mask pictured is available at Shiny Shack