There was an article recently that stated that 9 million people are receiving prescriptions for sleeping pills.  This shows the true issue with healthcare in America.  We want an instant solution and we do not want to do any work.  We also do not consider that medication does not give us the same type of sleep natural sleep gives the body. 

The issue is why do we need to take pill to sleep and is there another solution that works just as well as a pill? I am not saying that there is not a reason for some people to take sleep medication.  But it should not be the first choice to treat, poor sleep and fatigue.  The physician treats disease and disorder they do not promote wellness.  It is most likely that your doctor is as tired and has as poor sleep habits and is walking around as fatigued as their patients. 

The first step is to decide if you have a sleep disorder?  If you have an answer to the STOPBANG survey of greater than 3 than you need to talk to your doctor:

1. Do you SNORE loudly (louder than talking or loud enough to be heard through closed doors)?
2. Do you often feel TIRED, fatigued, or sleepy during daytime?
3. Has anyone OBSERVED you stop breathing during your sleep?
4. Do you have or are you being treated for high blood PRESSURE?
5. BMI more than 35?
6. AGE over 50 years old?
7. NECK circumference > 15.75 inches?
8. Male GENDER?

The next step is to look at your sleep routine.  Our brains are computers in that they need a routine to slow down and allow our body to release the hormones that promote sleep.  A routine is not put on my pajamas and go to bed.  It should be 20-45 minutes prior to going to bed.  It also should generally occur 7 days a week at the same time each night.  Our brain does not know weekdays and weekends it just knows the 24 hours of the day.  Choose a specific bedtime.  Do the same activities each night for the 45 minutes prior to going to sleep.  These should be activities that will help you to unwind.  I do ten minutes of yoga because it helps me to relax and allows me to concentrate on my breathing so my mind will stop racing with ideas.  Create a routine that works for you that does not include television or computers.

Electronics are the new biggest issue to increase our inability to sleep.  Cell phones need to be away from the bed.  The light stimulates the brain to not release Melatonin.  In order for our brains to transition from wake to sleep we need exposure to dark.  Cell phones prevent that.  When we check our cell phones during the night we again stimulate the brain confusing it as to whether they it is supposed to be awake or asleep. 

Exercise is another factor to help sleep.  Studies show that exercise over the long term helps to increase sleep and its quality.  That means that if you work out in the morning it might not help with that particular night’s sleep but that if you work out three days a week for a month your sleep will start to improve.  You have to decide what exercise you can fit into your life.  There is no right or wrong it is about increased movement. 

There are many other ways to help you improve your sleep without turning to a pill as your first resource.  It is essential that we look at healthcare for what it is disease management not wellness management.  It is important for you to do your research and to understand how important it is for you to make an informed decision about healthy sleep and how you can achieve it.  If ultimately you need it than a sleeping pill might help.  Just remember pills have side-effects you may not be aware of. 


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