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A Word of Caution About Sleep Aids and Medication

Updated: May 5, 2023

Sleep is a critical aspect of overall brain health. Today there are countless individuals that have trouble with attaining sleep, maintaining sleep, and sometimes a combination of both. As a result, millions are turning to sleep aids.

A Word of Caution About Sleep Aids and Medication

It’s easy to understand. A lot of people lay down, intending to go to bed, and they have the wheels turning in their minds as they’re engaged in thinking about their to-do lists, relationships, finances, or their career.

Some of the more common, albeit older, sleep aids come from a class of medications called benzodiazepines. These medications were originally designed to treat anxiety and panic disorders. Lorazepam (Ativan®), one of the most common, many are now taking for sleep issues.

These drugs essentially ramp down the mind a little bit, which then allows you to obtain sleep and remain asleep. There are also the more common sleep aid medications that were designed for sleep problems, like Ambien® or Lunesta®.

Most are aware of these prescription medications due to clever ad campaigns that are meant to create associations in your memory.

While there is absolutely a time and place for sleep medications, by and large, they are incredibly over-utilized in most cases as they are designed to be short-term solutions and most often become long-term traps that have consequences on brain function.

One of the most overlooked factors is sleep hygiene.

Factors like weight, sleeping environment, computer time, eating before bed, stress management and so many others have a profound impact on our sleep.

The bottom line is that we need to change our mindset. When we see that we can, in fact, get to sleep on our own after implementing sound sleep hygiene methods, this is an incredibly powerful first step to be able to move into sleep on your own and to take the dependence off of pills or supplements.

When it comes to sleep issues related to stress management, there are a wide variety of tools available at your disposal. If anxiety or poor stress management is an issue that is related to obtaining quality sleep, a good first step is to try journaling. The simple act of putting words on paper can help get the stressors out of your mind and onto paper. This can eventually help prepare you to take the next step toward more advanced techniques.

Contributor: Dr. Michael Trayford is a Board-Certified Chiropractic Neurologist and Founder of APEX Brain Centers in Asheville, NC. For additional information, and to learn more, please visit our Author's page.

The opinions expressed by contributing authors are not necessarily the opinions of the Dementia Society, Inc. We do not endorse or guarantee products, comments, suggestions, links, or other forms of the content contained within blog posts that have been provided to us with permission, or otherwise. Dementia Society does not provide medical advice. Please consult your doctor.

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