In a recent study, researchers are claiming a connection between sleeping pill use and risk of cancer and/or early death. There is other research also claiming a connection between sleeping pill use and other diseases such as depression, ulcers, GERD and sleep apnea. After reviewing this information I would have to conclude that the jury is definitely out on the cancer/premature death issue. However, sleeping pills have many cons and I try to encourage all my patients to use alternative methods.
As mentioned in the article, sleep hygiene is ESSENTIAL. This is the practice of a regular routine of at least 30 minutes and ideally 60 minutes every night before bed. This should not include ANY screen time such as computers, tablets, phones or TV. This routine should start at approximately the same time every night.
Often times there is a mental/emotional component to sleep disturbance that can be a huge obstacle to success. There are several approaches to helping this including counseling and other cognitive behavior therapies, but one of my favorite and most successful approaches is the balancing and supporting of neurotransmitters in the brain. What are these? These are chemicals that modify and affect all of your mental/emotional states. Some examples of these are seratonin, GABA, dopamine, and epinephrine. They play a crucial role in moods, sleep, and keeping that “busy mind” in control. There is testing available to look at these levels and very targeted, individualized amino acid therapies to use based on results. This is done through my office daily.
Of course hormone (reproductive, thyroid, and adrenal) imbalances can also affect sleep and should be considered as a possible contributor.
If you or a loved one feel the need for sleep aids or are struggling with regular, restorative sleep, please give us a call.
Azure Karli, ND
Bend Naturopathic Clinic 541-389-9750