Healthcare Tips

Break the Insomnia Cycle, Without Pills

March 11, 2020

Have any good (by which we mean “kind of embarrassing”) Ambien stories? Nearly 38 million Americans take the sleep prescription for their insomnia. A significant fraction suffers strange side effects. In some cases, people do perfectly ordinary household tasks, like folding laundry or making guacamole, and have little-to-no memory of the event.

But chronic insomnia is no joke. It can increase your risk of diabetes, asthma, heart attack, stroke, and other serious medical conditions. It can aggravate anxiety and depression. And it can even shorten your life.

Doctors and mental health professionals caution against relying on sleep medication to get your Zs. The side effects can range from irritating to dangerous. It’s also easy to become dependent on a drug or develop a tolerance (when the same dosage no longer has as much of an effect).

Tips for Better Sleep

Everybody’s insomnia situation is a bit different. But here are a few tips to get better sleep without the use of sleep medication:

If you find that your fear of insomnia itself is keeping you awake, try reminding yourself that everyone can sleep. We’re born doing it, and if our development is healthy and as expected, we can keep doing it. Insomnia happens when something in our body, mind, or environment gets in the way of this natural process.

And be aware: If you’re currently using a prescription or over-the-counter sleep aid to fight insomnia, you may suffer some withdrawal symptoms. These can include increased insomnia, as you attempt to sleep without them. Your doctor can help you come up with a plan to withdraw comfortably and safely.