People who have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep often turn to sleeping aids and medications to help them to fall asleep or to help them stay asleep so that they can get a full nights rest. Those who suffer from insomnia (an inability to fall asleep or stay asleep) may have the symptom because they are taking medications, have a sleep disorder, have poor sleeping habits, an inadequate sleeping environment, suffer from anxiety or depression, are in pain or have a disease that interferes with healthy sleep patterns.
Certain medications like those taken for colds, allergies, thyroid disease, asthma, high blood pressure and even those medications prescribed for pain can contain caffeine and other substances that can keep us awake.
Some sleep disorders can have symptoms that keep us awake such as those who suffer from or sleep with a person who has restless legs syndrome (RLS). The constant movement that the person suffering from RLS does keeps not only the person with the syndrome awake but the bed partner can be awoken from sleep as well.
Insomnia can last a few days or it can last for two or three weeks or longer. If it lasts longer than a few weeks it is termed as being chronic insomnia. Chronic insomnia is more difficult to treat and usually does not go away on its own. You may need to consult with your doctor or a sleep specialist in order to deal with chronic insomnia.
It is common for a woman to experience insomnia before and at the onset of her menstrual cycle, while pregnant and during menopause. Approximately 48% of Americans will encounter insomnia at some point in life. Women are 1.3 times more likely than men to experience insomnia. Those who are in relationship upheaval such as those going through divorce, those who are separated and those who are widowed are more likely to suffer from insomnia.
Medication is usually prescribed for those with insomnia or other sleeping disorders when it affects their ability to function during the day, or when behavioral approaches to treatment have not been effective or the person is unwilling to try behavioral therapy. Medications are sometimes used in conjunction with behavioral therapy. Sometimes medication is prescribed when insomnia accompanies a medical condition in which it is expected.
Your doctor will begin the medication therapy at the lowest dose possible, will prescribe it for short-term use, and will encourage the use of good sleep practices and behavioral approach in combination with taking the medication.
Hypnotics, antidepressants and anxiolytics are often prescribed for the treatment of insomnia. When deciding on a medication treatment plan the doctor will take into consideration the age of the individual, the diagnosis, the cause of the sleep problem, and any other medications that the individual may already be taking for other conditions.
Some antidepressants can actually cause insomnia so the individual will have to be sure to inform the doctor if they are taking antidepressants, as this may be the cause of their insomnia.
Benzodiazepine agonists (a hypnotic drug) are sleep-promoting drugs that have been used since the 1960s and are safe and effective at combating insomnia.
Other sleeping aids used to help people with insomnia are valerian, which is a root, melatonin that is a nutritional supplement, and of course there is behavioral therapy as a means of treating insomnia.