Sleeping Pills

Sleep is essential, it's foundational. Every cell in our body benefits from sleep as sleep rejuvenates and repairs. It flushes out toxins that are not needed and allows the body and muscles to relax.

 

On the flip side, a lack of sleep leaves us exhausted, impatient, cranky and deflated. When we experience too many sleepless nights we have to find our fix. If we have a headache, we may reach for that bottle of Tylenol. What do we do if we can't sleep? Sleeping pills seem to be the logical answer. The question is, do they help us or are they more harmful?


According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in 2013, nearly 9 million Americans use prescription sleep aids and over 1.1 million take over-the-counter sleep aids. That was a number of years ago.. the numbers today would be significantly higher seeing that sleep aids are a billion dollar industry. 

What Are Sleeping Pills?

Sleeping pills are drugs known as 'sedative hypnotics' or 'tranquilizers'. They are often prescribed by health care providers to treat sleep issues and other conditions such as anxiety and other sleep disorders in order to induce sleep.

If you're going through a move or a stressful period where you need some help for a week or two, they may help you get that sleep you need to get through your short, stressful time. They are meant to be prescribed as a short-term solution for sleep. They are designed to be a temporary bandaid.


Taken long-term, sleeping pills pose more danger than good. Many of them are addictive and when they are misused, pose serious consequences.  If used for too long - they turn out to be addictive drugs that can in fact make insomnia worse over time.

How Do Sleeping Pills Work?

Different sleeping pills affect the brain and body in different ways.

They all essentially manipulate the brain to slow down the nervous system to make you feel drowsy and/or they manipulating the brain areas that manage different aspects of sleep.

Do Sleeping Pills Work?

Sleeplessness is complicated - sleeping pills seem to offer a quick fix but they come with their share of side effects, some significantly alarming ones as we'll discuss below.


Sleeping pills can work for a short duration of time (a stressful short-lived period) but they don't work for everyone. Studies have shown that people who take sleeping pills only sleep a little longer and a little better than those who don't take the drug regardless of what the marketing ads show. Taking these pills for longer term durations can have serious or even deadly side effects. 


Daniel Buysse, M.D., UPMC professor of sleep medicine and professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine notes that although these sleep medication can help people fall asleep faster or return to sleep if they have night wakings, the benefits are small. "Most only increase total sleep time by 20-30 minutes" says Buysse.


His studies, along with other researchers found that some drugs have even less benefits. He found on average:


  • People taking Ramelteon fall asleep 9 minutes faster than those taking a placebo.
  • People taking Suvorexant got 10 minutes more sleep than those who took a placebo.
  • Some commonly used and popular sleep drugs haven't been shown to help at all.
  • Approximately 50 million U.S. adults reported using OTC antihistamine products in the past year  - but these haven't been studied for sleep benefits. There's little evidence showing the effectiveness of these drugs on sleep. 
  • Although doctors often prescribe the antidepressant trazodone for sleep issues - there's no data to support the use of trazodone for sleep. 

In fact the American Academy of Sleep Medicine treatment guidelines don't recommend the OTC drugs or trazodone for chronic insomnia.


Side Effects of Sleeping Pills

In 2018, Consumer Reports surveyed close to 2000 U.S. adults of which nearly 1/3 of people who experienced sleep problems said they had used an over the counter or prescription sleep medication in the previous year.

Most woke up feeling groggy and 6 out of 10 reported feeling side effects such as drowsiness, confusion and forgetfulness. Some even admitted to dozing off while driving.


These side effects are true of prescription sleeping pills as well as over the counter sleep aids. They pose special risks and sensitivities for older adults and can stay in their bodies longer. 


These side effects tend to get worse as people age. 1 out of 10 surveyed reported they felt uncoordinated, tripping or falling after taking a sleep aid. 


Research shows that older people who take sleep drugs are more likely to fall and suffer broken bones and brain injuries. A 2017 analysis of over 4500 people aged 65 and older found that over a 2 year period, people taking sleep drugs recommended by their doctor were 34% more likely to fall than those who weren't.


Woman may be more susceptible to next-day drowsiness then males as it takes longer for some drugs to clear their body. The FDA recommended drugmakers cut the dosage by 50% for medication containing 'z' drug Zolpidem. Physicians were also asked to prescribe lower doses for men. However, researchers found that many doctors ignored these recommendations (Ref: 2018 JAMA Internal Medicine). 


Here are the types of OTC and prescription sleep medication on the market, how they work and their potential side effects :

1. OTC Medication:  zzzQuil, Benadryl Allergy, Nytol, Sominex, Gravol  [Diphenhydramine] or Unisom SleepTabs [Doxylamine

These sleep aids are available as over the counter sleep medication.


Side Effects

  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Constipation
  • Dry Mouth
  • Difficulty Urinating

2. Excedrin PM, Nytol, Tylenol PM, Advil PM [Diphenhydramine]

These sleep aids are designed to address allergy symptoms but are used as a sleep aid as they cause drowsiness. help if you have mild or infrequent insomnia but not for chronic insomnia.(1)

Diphenhydramine can also cause unwanted sleepiness in the mornings according to Dr. Esther, MD.


Side Effects

  • Drowsiness
  • Unwanted Sleepiness in the Morning
  • Confusion
  • Constipation
  • Dry Mouth
  • Difficulty Urinating

3. Ambien, Ambine CR, Lunesta and Sonata [GABA medications]

Selective Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) medications selectively target only a certain type of GABA receptor in the brain - one that is believed to manage sleep


Side Effects

  • Drowsiness
  • Unwanted Sleepiness in the Mornings

4. Ambien, Ambine CR, Lunesta and Sonata [GABA medications]

Selective Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) medications selectively target only a certain type of GABA receptor in the brain - one that is believed to manage sleep


Side Effects

  • Memory Disturbances
    • Behaviour Changes Prior to Sleep
    • Hallucinations (2)
    • Sleepwalking

5. Rozerem [Ramelteon]

This drug works on the part of the brain that promotes sleep (melatonin receptors) and modifies our sleep-wake cycle. 

However, as with all sleep medicines, there can be a psychological dependence. 


Side Effects

  • Psychological Dependence
  • Affects Hormone Levels (if taken long term)


6. Ativan, Halcion, Restoril, Valium and Xanax [Benzodiazepines (benzos)]

These are the first generation drugs most commonly used as sleep aids. They work by manipulating the brain to cause sedation and relaxation. Benzo's are not recommended for long term use.


Side Effects

  • Addictive
  • High Potential for Abuse of the Drug
  • Poor Memory
  • Euphoria

7. Adapin, Aventyl, Sinequant, Trazodone, Pamelor Elavil [Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCAs)]

These drugs are prescribed for depression or chronic pain with insomnia and act throughout the brain.


Side Effects

  • Blurry Vision
  • Dizziness
  • Dry Mouth
  • Difficulty in Urination

Rebound Insomnia

Long term use of these medications can be habit-forming and trying to stop taking these medications can lead to a rebound effect where insomnia gets worse.

As common with other types of medication, sleeping pills can't be stopped cold turkey. Long term use of these medications can be habit-forming and trying to stop taking these medications can lead to a rebound effect where insomnia gets worse. Though rebound insomnia is hard to overcome it can be managed through proper treatment. Seek the help of a trained medical professional that can help.

Is There A Natural Alternative to Sleeping Pills?

Sleeping pills are a bandaid solution - they help temporarily but don't address the source of most of our sleep issues - which is too much stress in the body.


Of course if we have a medical condition such as sleep apnea, rheumatoid arthritis or are going through medical treatments such as chemotherapy or other procedures - these can also results in chronic insomnia.

 

However, if we are simply feeling too wired to fall asleep with thoughts constantly on our minds, feeling worried and anxious - this is a sign that our stress hormone (Cortisol) is too high  and is interfering and preventing our sleep hormones (Melatonin and Gaba) from kicking in and making us feel sleepy. 


There are a list of natural ways to help you fall asleep and stay asleep. 


We created a natural sleep and stress formula that uses 100% natural herbs at the right dose to help bring down your cortisol levels - so you can fall asleep, stay asleep and calm those feelings of stress and anxiety.

Clinically Proven to Help You Sleep Better, Reduce Feelings of Stress & Anxiety and Feel Calm

Shanti 1 Bottle
  • Improves Sleep Without Making You Feel Groggy
  • Reduces feelings of Stress by Reducing Cortisol Levels
  • Reduces Feelings of Anxiety
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  • Strengthens Immunity
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Jackie Shanti Supplement Review

Jackie Atkins

Corinth, MS

I have suffered most of my life with insomnia, anxiety and short bouts of depression. I've spent hundreds of dollars over the years on supplements that had no effect on my problems. Shanti has been an answer to my prayer. Thank you so much for providing this product. 

Shanti Review Jackie Atkins

Our main ingredient in Shanti (KSM66-Ashwagandha) is backed by human clinical trials showing it significantly lowers cortisol levels and significantly lowers feelings of stress and anxiety. 


You have to be careful when choosing supplements to make sure what is on the label is actually in the bottle... and with no contaminants. We value transparency and integrity. Shanti is made in the USA in a FDA inspected and regulated facility. We are so confident in the quality of each capsule, we post our quality report for each batch on our website so you can see exactly what is in each capsule.


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