(CNN) – Myths about sleeping pills going wrong.
If you ask the flight attendant, you will hear funny stories like people sleeping, undressing or waking up. They urinate in the next seat.
The use of sleeping pills can also be fatal. Half a million “excessive deaths” in the United States were due to the use of sleep aids called anesthesia-hypnotics, a 2010 study found.
People who take sleeping pills, including Solbidem and Demazepam, are four times more likely to die from accidents and health problems related to their use than those who do not. According to the study. Even those who take less than two sleeping pills a month are three times more likely to die than those who do not.
If you use or intend to use a prescription or over-the-counter sleeping pill, what do you need to know to make it safe? We ask that Dr. Jing WangAssistant Professor of Lung, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine at the Icon School of Medicine in Mount Sinai, New York City.
CNN: If someone comes to you with insomnia or other insomnia and asks for help with sleep, do you give them a sleeping pill as a first step for immediate relief?
Dr. Jing Wang: No, of course not. We try very hard not to do that. If someone comes in with insomnia, we take a very thorough sleep and medical history. It is important for that person to share his or her personal data to identify what the origin of insomnia is. Is it behavioral or is it related to medications or medical conditions?
I said to them, “What is your time during the day? What do you do at night?” I will ask that. Try to diagnose your physical and emotional stress. Will he always be on screen at work and at home?
We focus on how the person prepares for bed: “Do you have procedures? Is bedtime right?” Insomnia is often caused by the actions we take in return for not getting enough sleep. People act very creatively in unhelpful ways: they communicate on the phone, check emails or respond to work messages, or turn on the TV and go to sleep. Both expose you to blue light, which sends a signal to your brain to wake up. There will always be those who say “get up and work out” and definitely not what you want to do!
CNN: When can sleep aids be prescribed?
Wang: Our leading approach is to introduce a way to patients Cognitive behavioral therapy Called CBTI, which refers to insomnia. Teach patients about regular bedtime and waking hours, healthy sleep behaviors such as keeping curtains and blue lights out of the bedroom, and doing things before bed. It is about the interactions our brain makes with our sleep environment and how our behaviors or activities affect it.
If we have someone who is clearly struggling with severe insomnia and has a recognizable factor or change in their life, we can still discuss a short-term trial of a sleep aid for a few weeks or a month or less, with regular trials only.
Also, we have set clear expectations regarding short-term use because we do not want to prescribe a sleeping pill for the next 30 years. We want to get to the root of the problem in a healthy way by correcting the insomnia trigger.
CNN: Why is long-term use of sleeping pills unhealthy?
Wang: It depends because people have different responses and can be affected in different ways. Some of these sleep aids can become addictive, making a person feel that they cannot sleep without them. They are dangerous when mixed with alcohol or some painkillers. Some cause daytime sleepiness and may interfere with driving and other motor functions.
Anesthetic sleeping pills are associated with hallucinations and disorienting behaviors. People have been driving cars, cooking food, walking in their sleep, and making phone calls without remembering when we woke up. After waking up, people can be easily affected by a hangover effect such as drowsiness and confusion.
CNN: Let’s talk about over-the-counter medications. Is this a problem?
Wang: Any medicine has a double-edged sword: it has its uses, but it always has side effects.
One of the best advices I always give to patients is to tell them to try to avoid sleeping pills. They can have unintended side effects such as making you fast instead of sleeping. There is an opportunity to interact with prescribed anesthetics, which patients can also take. And there is always the possibility of misuse or overuse because they think, “Oh, it’s over the counter, so it’s safe.”
Take it Melatonin. Some say taking 30 or 60 milligrams of melatonin is dangerous; We do not know yet. It is not really controlled, so non-melatonin products can be mixed into the pill or tablet. You may get a headache which is one of the known side effects of melatonin. Or you can take it at the wrong time and interfere with your circadian rhythm.
Antihistamines, for example, make the next day dry mouth, dizziness and a kind of hangover feeling. They may also have anticholinergic effects, including urinary retention, blurred vision, constipation and nausea. Chronic and regular use of these agents has been linked to the risk of dementia in some studies.
Finally, using over-the-counter sleeping pills can delay your sleep problems from becoming a concern: “I have no reason to see a sleep doctor or talk to my doctor about my sleep problems.” I can. Use an OTC agent. “
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