The best sleep aid is obviously the one that works well for you. This is a look at the prescription sleep aids, OTC sleep medications, herbal sleep remedies and lifestyle changes that have worked well for others.
There are two basic classes; benzodiazepines and non-benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepines are also prescribed for anxiety disorders. They are not recommended for long term use, because tolerance to them develops over time, requiring a larger and larger dose to feel the desired effects.
They interfere with the natural structure, quality and restfulness of sleep. A number of road traffic accidents have been attributed to the use of these drugs.
Tolerance to non-benzodiazepines develops over time, too. But, it takes longer. Safety and/or effectiveness of the drugs for long term use have not been proven.
Other drugs sometimes prescribed for insomnia include melatonin agonists, which work by assisting the body’s production and use of the hormone melatonin. Normally, it is this hormone that helps us fall asleep.
Nytol, Tylenol PM and Advil PM contain antihistamines, as does Benadryl, which some people feel is the best sleep aid. Antihistamines are most often prescribed to treat allergy symptoms; itching, sneezing, etc. But, they also have hypnotic and sedative activity.
Nyquil, which is a nighttime cold reliever, is primarily flavored alcohol. Alcohol does induce a state of drowsiness, but can also be addictive and interfere with natural sleep cycles.
Herbal sleep aids are a great alternative to sleeping pills.
Like a cup of warm milk, only better, a warm cup of herbal tea, 30-60 minutes before bedtime, may make you drowsy enough to fall asleep. Passionflower is one of the herbs commonly recommended for this purpose. It may also have natural antidepressant activity, as it inhibits the breakdown of one of the brain’s feel good chemicals, serotonin.
Valerian is another herb that some people feel is the best sleep aid. It has a mild sedative effect and also helps to lower blood pressure, which normally occurs as a person is sleeping. In one study, valerian combined with Melissa officinalis extract was just as effective as benzodiazepine in people with insomnia. This combination is found in some of the herbal sleep aids on the market.
Jamaica dogwood is another herbal sleep remedy that can be combined with valerian. It has some natural pain-relieving activity. So, it is particularly helpful when an injury or general aches and pains are keeping you awake.
Many herbalists say that chamomile is the best sleep aid. The tea is a mild sedative. It relieves spasms and some aches and pains. It can be taken by mouth, added to a warm bath or the essential oils can be used in aromatherapy.
The B vitamins, 5 HTP, tryptophan and melatonin are some of the nutrients that could be the best sleep aid for you. If you have trouble sleeping, it could be because you are not getting enough protein or essential amino acids during the day. Amino acids are necessary for the body to produce serotonin and melatonin.
Melatonin is sold over the counter as a dietary supplement. It works for some people, but not for others. There is some question about whether or not it can cross the blood/brain barrier when taken orally. The same is true of tryptophan.
5 HTP is converted within the body into tryptophan which then becomes serotonin. Low blood levels are associated with insomnia and depression. Like melatonin and tryptophan, it is sold over the counter as a dietary supplement. But, 5 HTP is believed to be more effective, because it can cross the blood/brain barrier.
The NightWave Sleep Assistant emits a soft blue light. The luminance of the light slowly rises and falls. You learn to synchronize your breathing with the rise and fall of the light. The light shuts off automatically after a time. You may fall asleep before that happens. Focusing on the light allows you to escape the buzzing thoughts responsible for keeping you awake. It is almost hypnotic. If you wake in the middle of the night, you can reset the device and get back to sleep. See Also: NightWave Review, NightWave Blue Light Sleep Aid Works, Get To Sleep With The Night Wave Sleep Assistant, Heard of the Night Wave Sleep Assistant?
Sleeping in a cool, dark room, with no television or other distractions might be the best sleep aid of all. Artificial light interferes with the body’s natural production of melatonin. It interferes with our ability to fall asleep. So, turn off the lights and see what happens.
What do you do when you can't get to sleep? What's the best sleep aid for you? Share your tip...
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