In our current fast-paced world, there’s no question that it is becoming increasingly important to keep up.
In our efforts to stay abreast of 24-hour news cycles, greater global telecommunication capabilities and significant advances in computer technology, we end up sacrificing hours that we should be spending asleep. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), more than 35 percent of U.S. adults do not get the recommended seven hours of sleep per night.
As a result, we end up only half awake during the day and at risk of causing car accidents or dozing off while at work. Furthermore, overdoing stimulants that contain caffeine, particularly energy drinks, can have their own adverse side effects, such as increasing the heart rate, anxiety, and jitteriness.2
If you can recognize this chronic lack of sleep in yourself, it should not take a big stretch of the imagination to realize that odds are good that many of your patients suffer from this same state of perpetual grogginess. While you are taking this as part of their medical history, you will also likely find that they have one or more other conditions that adversely affect their sleep, such as chronic pain, depression, or arthritis.
Furthermore, they may also have tried prescription sleep aids and found them to be ineffective. This is an excellent opportunity to show your patients how natural sleep aids, including supplements, can work better than prescription sleep medications.
Prescription sleep aids
Most patients’ main complaint regarding prescription sleep aids centers around a long list of undesirable side effects. Depending on the type of medication, such side effects can include:3
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Daytime drowsiness
- Severe allergic reaction
- Memory loss
- Dry mouth
- Irregular heartbeat
- Weight gain
Furthermore, if your patients have a history of certain medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, seizures or kidney disease, they may not be able to take certain types of prescription sleep medications.3 Women who are pregnant or nursing should not take prescription medications for sleep, due to the risk of transmission to their child. Prescription sleep medication can also present a risk for the elderly, due to an increase risk for falls.
Natural sleep aids
Melatonin and the herb valerian are the two most popular natural sleep supplements. Several studies have shown that both of these supplements can improve sleep in a number of ways, including shortening the time until onset of sleep, improving sleep quality, increasing sleep duration, and avoiding morning grogginess.4,5 Some side effects have been reported for these supplements, including depression, waking during the night, and morning grogginess.
Overall, however, the National Center for Integrative and Complementary Health found both supplements to be safe for healthy adults to take for cases of short-term sleeplessness with fewer adverse side effects than prescription sleep aids.4,5
In addition to supplements, your patients may also benefit from bedtime relaxation and meditation sessions to put them in the right frame of mind to get a good night’s sleep. Combining these complementary sleep aids with natural supplements may well provide your patients with a well-rounded treatment plan to get the sleep they need to keep pace with the world around them.
- Short sleep duration among US adults. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. Accessed 9/27/2017.
- Energy drinks. National Center for Integrative and Complementary Health. Accessed 9/27/2017.
- Prescription sleeping pills: What’s right for you? Mayo Clinic. Accessed 9/27/2017.
- Natural sleep aids and remedies. Accessed 9/27/2017.
- Melatonin: In depth. National Center for Integrative and Complementary Health. Accessed 9/27/2017.
- National Center for Integrative and Complementary Health. Accessed 9/27/2017.