Tips for the safer use of sleeping medication
Tossing and turning all night, staring at the ceiling thinking about work and bills can be frustrating and may even turn you towards sleeping pills, which may not always be the best option.
If you are being regularly affected by poor sleep, then it should be a red flag that something isn’t quite right. In general, sleeping pills are most effective for a short-term problem such as jet lag or working the occasional night shift. These shouldn’t be used for longer than 14 days and if they are still required after that, see your GP to discuss long-term treatment options.
Risks of sleeping medication
Common side effects include dizziness, headaches, muscle aches, constipation, dry mouth and rebound insomnia. Sleeping medication can also result in drug tolerance, dependence and withdrawal symptoms.
Never take with alcohol
Alcohol does not only disrupt the quality of sleep but can also interact with sleeping pills, further enhancing the sedative effect which can be deadly combination.
Plan for seven or eight hours
If you take sleeping tablets without the time to sleep for 7 or 8 hours you will feel very drowsy the next day
Don’t double up in the middle of the night
It can be tempting when you wake up in the night to take another tablet to get you back to sleep, however, this can be dangerous if the previous dose has not yet been broken down by the body
Start with the lowest recommended dose
Starting low and working your way up will help prevent any excess medication being taken and will reduce your likelihood of suffering from side effects
Avoid frequent use
Saving sleeping tablets for emergencies rather than taking nightly will help avoid dependency and minimise adverse effects
Never drive or operate machinery after taking sleeping tablets
You never know how the tablets may affect you so avoid driving and machinery