The evolution of medication from ‘Ayurveda’ to ‘Allopathy’ has a sharp surge in usage from ancient to modern times where ayurvedic medicine has its own importance at a corner while the allopathic medicines occupy the entire room and the reason being the curing pace of a pathology is quick due to allopathy intake rather than ayurvedic.
Most of the population in the world now are inclined to consuming a pill now and then as a remedy to every small malfunction in the body that may be caused naturally or due to internal stress caused. In the same line stands the medication to something that has its natural occurrence of action to the biological clock set but due to various reasons, people either stop or procrastinate doing. It is the act of resting after working for hours, communicating and mechanizing the brain, which is named as Sleep. When the natural biological clock is disturbed, it leads to a situation where you find yourself deprived of sleep resulting in unnecessary chemical secretion in body causing various breakdowns in the system’s natural functioning.
To compensate the sleep deprivation, rather adopting to various natural remedies to get in sync with the sleep clock, a pill replaces as remedy due to its quick action. Besides the side effects it bears, people tend to choose and consume it, as it has a ‘get-set-go’ action in a short while.
Sleeping pills help you fall asleep for sure. But at what cost? What are the real side effects seen so far and why are they dangerous for the health? Even though prescribed by physicians, sleeping pills come with real risks that are publicly unknown. These risks include cancer, memory loss and sleepiness.
What are sleeping pills?
Also known as hypnotics, these sleeping pills are obtained via prescription from doctors. ‘Sleeping pills’ is an umbrella term that has under its shade covering different types of sleep medication:
- Hypnotics: These induce sleep in body.
- Tranquilizers: These lower anxiety levels in body.
Benzodiazepine is the chemical element used in these pills which has its direct action on nerve endings and muscle fibers to induce sleep and reduce anxiety. Habituation to these pills is also a problem. A 3-week usage in continuum makes the body dependent on them to fall asleep. Some of the health issues that arise on taking this medication include headache, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, hallucinations, day time drowsiness and depression.
Risks accompanied with sleeping pills
Innumerous risks are associated with sleeping pills while making their prescription is still a controversial and much debated factor in medical fraternity. The risks linked with benzodiazepines affects different parts of the body like brain, muscle, heart etc.,
- High risk of mortality:
A risk of death is over 4 times greater in people who consume the pills on regular basis than in people who do not take them. According to researchers, it can raise the depression levels leading to suicide risks.
- Increased risk of cancer:
A 35% higher risk of developing cancer is revealed in a study on people who take notable amount of benzodiazepines than in people who don’t.
- Risk of Alzheimer’s:
Use of benzodiazepine for more than 3 months linked a greater risk (up to 51%) of developing loss in memory leading to Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s is a deterioration in mental ability which mostly occurs in middle or old age people due to generalized degradation of brain with age. But on consuming the tranquilizing pills, the risk is likely to happen at a young age.
- Sleepiness during the day:
This pill consumption gives a grumpy day start and drowsiness throughout the day due to which work to be done can be ineffective. Most of the deaths caused in road accidents are due to this ‘falling asleep on wheel’ while driving on road.
- Risk of habituation and dependence:
Hypnotics attach themselves onto the nerve cell receptors creating dependence on their intake. Stopping its usage is therefore difficult in patients who try to stop their treatment abruptly.
- Degradation in sleep quality:
The benzodiazepine chemical damages the quality of sleep, deep sleep in particular modifying the architecture of sleep. This causes tiredness, inattention and lethargy.
As mentioned above, sleeping pills come with several risks which sometimes leads to fatality. They can nevertheless be effective in cases when doctors prescribe them for short amounts of time. It is also recommended to treat the roots of insomnia (stress, anxiety etc.,) to limit the risks caused, once taking pills is stopped.
When is a sleeping pill recommended?
At best, sleeping pills are temporary band aids while at worst, they’re addictive making insomnia worse at long run.
- In case of severity in insomnia than more occasional sleeplessness, the pill consumption is preferable.
- To avoid risk of daytime drowsiness, it is to be taken in right time at night just before going to bed.
- Doctors tend to recommend the pills for people only with severe sleep disorders.
Ways to overcome sedative addiction:
- Do nothing with your medication but support your nervous system and create a good sleep routine.
- Gradually decrease the dose of pill consumption with the guidance of doctor.
- Create a pre-bed time routine that is not medication based.
- Ensure adequate hydration to body, cut caffeine and sugars as much as possible.
- Consult your doctor or pharmacist to de-addict from usage as they know which drug, what dose and how long you have been using it.
- Make a transition to using natural sleep aids. A herb named ‘Valerian’ is a natural and fantastic relaxant that helped people to get to sleep and stay asleep. In fact, valerian had a positive effect on withdrawal from benzodiazepine use.
- Be patient!
The longer since you have been taking medication, the longer it will take to return to a non-medicated sleep. One may sleep longer, sleep less, dream more or feel groggy during this process. It is important to realize that body needs to adjust and it will take time for the person to get used to the difference for a rehab from the drug addiction.