Are you using OTC anti-allergy or pain-relieve pills as your sleep-aids?

“Why We Sleep” by Matthew Walker, has taken over the internet by storm. It quickly became one of the best selling book worldwide. The book explains health benefits and harms associate with sleep in simple language. Inferring from the increasing public demand and interests in this area, we could assume, although not a disease, insomnia, sleep apnea and other sleep disorders have become unmet public health problems.

American Sleep Association’s recent statistics have shown “50-70million US adults have a sleep disorder. Insomnia is the most common specific sleep disorder” (1).

CBC news’ presented a survey of over 4,000 American adults who are taking Rx or over the counter (OTC) sleep remedies (Tylenol PM, NightQuil, Ambien, etc). Result showed, 18% consumers are taking it on regular basis and 41% have used it for a year or longer” (2).

While it is common for people to use these sleep aids as temporary fix, many have neglect to ask these questions:

Why are you needing to take them?
Could you get a restful night of sleep without them?
What are the long term side effects and how are they affecting your health ?

Causes of poor sleep can be multifactorial and circumstantial. What can you do before you paying a lot of money for therapists or professional help?

  1. Sleep hygiene – Maintain a bedtime routine, get to bed around the same time (+/-20min) every night. Put away your electronics 30 min before bed.
  2. Environment – make sure you have a quiet and comfortable environment: quiet, dark room with comfortable temperature. Adjust pillow height or firmness of your mattress to your comfort.
  3. For Travelers – alternatives of Melatonin include supplements with GABA, L-Theonine, Magnesium glycinate, and or herbs such as chamomile, Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), lemon balm(Melissa officinalis), passion flower (Passiflora incarnata), and hops (Humulus lupulus) as part of the key ingredients. These naturally occurring chemicals may assist in balancing your endocrine and help you getting a restorative night of sleep.

Seeking professional help to investigate into the causes of your insomnia is always an option than going through hundreds of supplements in finding the solution on your own.