With the recent arrest of Kerry Kennedy Cuomo, questions about sleep aids have been raised. Although a good night’s sleep is imperative, it is even more important to know the ins and outs of these drugs before taking them.
Ambien, also known generically as zopidem, is a sleep aid that is prescribed to more people than any other sleep aid. About thirty nine million people reportedly take this hypnotic drug, which works quickly and generally leaves people without a hangover the next morning.
Ambien’s effects can last for up to four hours, and the sustained release tablet can even last longer. It is generally recommended that you take it when you anticipate having a full night’s sleep, and certainly not within five hours of driving a car.
It is important to remember that Ambien does come with a warning. In a small percentage of patients, Ambien can lead to “complex sleep behaviors.” This is when people end up doing odd things under it’s influence without any memory of doing so, like sleep walking, eating in the middle of the night, and even leaving the house, or getting behind the wheel of a car. After dozens of cases and a class action lawsuit, the FDA required the drug maker to put an additional warning on its label.
Ambien is a sedative so it can obviously cause sedation, dizziness, lingering daytime drowsiness, and can become habit forming. It is, therefore, only recommended for short-term use for insomnia, and not for the long term.
An outstanding twenty percent of Americans say they get less than six hours of sleep a night. The most common problem is insomnia, where people either can’t fall asleep or can’t stay asleep. Due to this lack of sleep, about sixty million people were prescribed a sleeping aid last year.
For the short term, a lack of sleep can affect mood, your job performance, and the ability to drive safely. In the long term, being sleep deprived has been linked to serious problems like heart disease, depression and obesity.
Breathing problems, such as sleep apnea, can attribute to lack of sleep. Other causes also include restless leg syndrome, depression, stress, and medications.
Fortunately, there are over-the-counter sleep aids that can help with the occasional sleepless night, such as Tylenol PM or Simply Sleep. Most of these over-the-counter sleep aids contain antihistamines, however, and you can build up a tolerance. The longer you take them, the less likely they are to make you sleepy. In addition, they can make you feel groggy the next day. There is also a supplement called melatonin, which is often used for jet lag and can help you fall asleep faster. If you are going to try one of these remedies, make sure to previously contact your doctor.
There are a few ways to getting a good nights sleep without medication. Sleep specialists call it having good sleep hygiene. They recommend cutting back on caffeine and alcohol. Try to stick to a sleep schedule, so you get in the bed and out of the bed at around the same time every day. Also, make sure your bedroom is dark and quiet. Calm yourself before bedtime with a relaxing activity like reading- not eating, exercising, or watching TV.
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