What is sleep?
Sleep is a process characterized by the human body naturally going to a state of rest for the purpose of physiological rejuvenation of organs independently and collectively under systems. Some say it’s a necessary stage of human bodies to achieve equal balance of normalcy and functionality hence the reason why sleep is key for optimal health.
As we all know, stages need conducive factors and processes can be enhanced or disrupted. Let us therefore look at one man-made aspect that has emerged to ‘solve’ or ‘improve’ this process of sleep – SLEEPING AIDS.
Different ages require different amounts of sleep, though sometimes it is not only about the quantity but the quality. These two major measures are dictated by wider reasons/factors.
Major sleeping issues and disorders
- Sleep deprivation
For the sleeping process to commence, sleep-inducing chemicals in the body are used to communicate the signal to the body that it needs rest as external factors such as darker environments could help too.
Present-day humans still all over the world currently choose to cut down on their sleep due to reasons best known to them. Such a habit can cause serious bodily harm and in the long-term even affect the normal cycle of sleep for any human. This habit is known as sleep deprivation.
According to scientific theory of sleep, sleep deprivation increases waste material that comes from the by-product of energy during a human’s active period e.g., adenosine which is a sleep-inducing chemical.
This deprivation therefore causes unusual and unhealthy sleep pressure levels due to non-processing of such waste/by-product and excessive buildup in the brain is the start of all the negative symptoms, illnesses and other effects.
As awkward as it may seem do you stress about losing sleep? Different reasons such as jet-lag, emotional distress and even irregular work shift times can really throw you off your biological schedule of your sleep schedule.
Sleep-deprivation is short-term unlike insomnia.
The accumulating fatigue from sleep deprivation can even be accelerated by day-to-day tasks and underlying health conditions such as gas intestinal, respiratory issue- impounding on anxiety and sleepless nights.
This sets a series of stress-inducing hormones that fires many organs into hyperarousal leading to a state of higher heart rate and mental activity- all factors that undermine the sleeping process.
When these processes keep on happening for months on, the individual is diagnosed with chronic insomnia. The insomniac should be wary alert to those red flags to look out for as it may be an opening door that leads to anxiety, depression or even both conditions.
- Fatal Familial Insomnia
There are others who need sleeping aids for unavoidable reasons such as genetic sleeping disorders such as Fatal Familial Insomnia.
For such life-long conditions, most of these negative effects can be reduced with better sleep patterns, practices and tools known as sleeping aids to live a relatively normal life.
Effects of less and unhealthy sleep
- Hormonal imbalance
- Less focus and uncoordinated cognitive skills
- Poor short-term memory
The effects may not seem as dire in the short-term but could be tremendously detrimental in the long-term like, diabetes, obesity, strokes and even few cases of death.
Overall, supposedly those suffering such symptoms or sleeping issues would want to experience better or more shut eye in order to improve the quality of their day-to-day experience and feel about their life.
Now from the scientific and comprehensive breakdown of sleep and its three major issues: sleep deprivation, pressure and insomnia come about, we do understand that people turn to solutions and in this article, we focus on sleeping aids.
What are sleeping aids?
Sleeping aids are sleep-promoting supplements aimed at bridging the inconsistencies within the cycle of any given human and ultimately improve the quality or quantity of the process of rejuvenation.
Types of sleeping aids
- Dietary Supplements
Dietary supplements are medicinal and even non-medicinal (herbal) remedies meant to push, rebalance and stabilize the sleep-inducing chemicals, sleeping hormones or even the sleeping cycle for an individual wary of differences in the way they are taking their sleep.
Most of those buying such supplements have slight symptoms of sleep deprivation or recent day-to-day factors like for example shift of working times and days. These supplements consist of melatonin, valerian, zolpidem, and Flurazepam.
The most common one being melatonin. These dietary supplements come in form of herbal solutions
- Over-the-Counter (without prescription) drugs
These drugs also known in short as OTC drugs are purchased in chemists/pharmaceuticals. They do not require a medical prescription from the doctor as they have a less intense effect in the human body or rather in this case, the sleeping cycle. OTC drugs are focused on managing recent changes in one’s sleeping patterns.
They are used because of their sedative mechanism that set the body into a more relaxed state to be able to allow the natural sleep-inducing chemicals in the body to operate.
They are mostly used in the evening as to integrate with the usual sleeping times. Comprising of single medicinal ingredient per sleeping aid, they at times are mixed with other active ingredients for conditions such as fever and headaches.
OTC drugs must still be regulated and validated by the relevant medical board in your country, so be wary to cross check. Out of all of the three types of sleeping aids, this are the most addictive.
- Prescription medication
These are sleeping aids that are given by the medical consultations by regular patients who seek to fully recover from their sleep issues and disorders. This should be the main and first way of addressing sleeping issues and disorders.
Minor (Sub) Types
- Doxylamine (Unisom)
- Diphenhydramine (Benadryl)
Benefits of sleeping aids
Note: the scope of these potential benefits may vary but also in magnitude due to the different sleeping issues/disorders, different individuals with different states of health and pre-existing health conditions being experienced by the given patient.
- Reduces symptoms of less focus in thinking and restores better day-to-day task accomplishment with cognitive skills boosted back into action.
- Eliminates unnecessary breaks during sleep, sometimes over time, with restoration of the natural sleep cycle over time and even cutting down on instances of drowsiness for example dosing off at work.
Risks of sleeping aids
Ever heard the notion that anything with an advantage may have a disadvantage and vice versa. In the case of medicine, the chemical ingredients are mostly not of natural components and the best advice is and will always be stick to the medical instruction given with no room for error or abuse.
- Less coordination: falls, general dizziness and declined orientation of average tasks/ actions have been reported by some older adults.
- Random negative internal/external reactions: such occurrences are reported in children as usage of medication generally could interfere with some developmental processes.
- Pre-existing health conditions can pose a threat to the health of the suffering individual as it could worsen the coping or medical treatment, he/she is living with. Therefore, the given individual needs to consult and share of the condition before prescription at the minimum.
- Poor pregnancy development and lactating: the load on an average early/ expectant mother is already immense. Taking this in consideration, already means any sleeping issues or even drugs ingested could derail the natural and healthy process of the unborn child or the newly born child during breastfeed. Consultation and communication is also necessary in this case.
- Informed Decision: if you do experience any of the few symptoms we mentioned or any discomfort and even irregularity from your sleep over some weeks, please take a visit to consult with your own personal doctor, if possible as it may help get to a medical conclusion on whether you are in need of sleeping aids or not. If further analysis is required, let him/her refer you to a sleep specialist for a keener look.
- Take intentional action: be very careful with dosages and take the medication only as prescribed to get the desired positive changes. What could accelerate the process and take you back to graceful rest would be more from your own initiative as time planning for longer sleep cycles, go to bed at relatively the same time everyday and other easy tips to adhere to.
- The drug is not only the everlasting solution: the drug/ medication or herbal remedy is not meant for lifelong administration. On the contrary, the drug is just to set things rolling in order to turn the tide for better. The administration of drugs should be set out with regular time management for sleep/rest with accountability for future checkups and hopefully experience better, genuine and healthier sleep experiences.
- Flipside of senses: different medical pills address different parts of the altered sleeping cycle of the given patient. These medications may evoke feelings of nausea, lightheaded per se and even other negative sleeping actions or tendencies such as sleep walking.
- Communication is key: these medical resources are just one part of the long journey to helping you get back on track with rest and a healthy cycle of life. This means that such aids are short-term solutions and need guidance from the medic who is treating you through the given sleep disorder. After completing each batch of prescribed dosage of these medical aids, get in touch and pay a visit for further guidance.
- You are the difference: Make your rest routine as practical, intentional and conducive for you renewed state of body last as long as possible. Genuine health needs choice and deliberate action to valuing your sleep.
Side effects of sleeping aids
- Headaches: sleep pressure emanates from the brain as the starting point. Just like all medication, once assimilated into the bloodstream the brain processes the effects of the sleeping aids. We have to understand that prolonged unadvised usage of the medicinal sleeping aids could cause pains on some parts of brain tissue ultimately causing headaches or even migraines for some.
- Eventual Addiction: suffering individuals use sleeping aids for justifiable reasons but overuse them even though they want to improve their sleep experience. Those that end up being addicted are also individuals who misuse these drugs for very different reasons.
- Semi-permanent unpleasant taste: some chemical ingredients are quite bitter or have extreme tastes. For anyone under medication, such drugs could tingle your taste buds temporarily for worse.
- Sleepwalking or other subconscious sleeping tendencies: the sleeping cycle needs to be fully realigned from start to end with all scientific stages of sleep. Before the chain fully comes together, there may be sporadic instances of the patient maybe sleep walking or any simple task even being ‘done’ by the given patient subconsciously at times.
- Augmentation: under irregularity of sleeping syndromes, medicine foretells there could be danger of exhibiting worse symptoms if not properly being treated to the highest degree.
- Financial losses: it is quite costly to keep having a go at medical sleeping aids, especially when one is purchasing it through insurance which clearly knows there are measures to curb expenditure on their end but also based on health limits.
- Irresponsible social behavior: with medication addressing body processes working with hormones, things may tilt the scales of balance moving the patient to possible destructive habits such as stealing due to messed up senses of arriving to basic decision-making.
- Sexual side effects: considering that hormones are all part of the sexual intercourse experience, extensive use of sleeping aids could dent the experience affecting both genders. Both genders could have differing symptoms.
- Heartburn risk: individuals with pre-existing conditions are meant to stick to the letter when it comes to usage of sleeping aids. As for the sleeping cycle, when sleep-inducing chemicals start flowing and lower the heart rate eventually. Any slight wrong usage could cause dangerous heartache sensation.
Starting tonight have a good night and sleep like a baby.