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Getting a Good Nights Sleep

Insomnia is a common problem for many people. Those with insomnia have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. A lack of sleep can cause people to have trouble functioning in their daily lives and ultimately their health. Sometimes insomnia only lasts for a short time, or for many people it’s a condition that affects them everyday. Most people want a quick fix when it comes to getting a good nights sleep, which often results in taking over the counter medications for sleep. What most people don’t understand is that most of these medications are a specific type of allergy medication (diphenhydramine) in which the main side effect is drowsiness. So in taking these medications you really aren't “treating” your insomnia, rather you are just exposing your body to a side effect of this medication which induces sleep.

When trying to get a good nights sleep it’s best to look at the cause of insomnia before reaching for that over the counter sleep aide or prescription form your doctor. Start by keeping a sleep dairy for one to two weeks, keep it simple by just tracking sleep times and caffeine/alcohol intake. This can provide clues to the behaviors that might need to be changed in order to help you sleep better and avoid taking medications.

Here are a few tips to try before resorting to medications for sleep:

  • Stick to a regular sleep schedule---even on weekends.

  • Get regular exercise---avoid exercise in the late evening.

  • Go to bed only when you are sleepy.

  • Put your worries away when you go to bed.

  • Do something relaxing and enjoyable before bedtime.

  • Make your bedroom quiet and comfortable.

  • Avoid large meals just before bedtime.

  • Use your bedroom only for sleep and sexual activity.

  • If you do not fall asleep within 15 to 20 minutes, get up and go to another room. Return to bed only when you feel drowsy.

  • Remove your clock from sight.

  • Do not nap during the day. If you must nap, do so only for 30 minutes in the early afternoon.

  • Avoid alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine.

  • Avoid frequent use of sedatives.

  • Spend time outdoors at the same time each day.

  • Have your pharmacist check your medicines, in case any of them keep you from sleeping.

  • Avoid bright lights from the TV, computers, video games, etc. before bed.

If you are still not getting a full night's sleep, even with good sleep habits, you should talk to your pharmacist or other health care provider. He or she will help you figure out the cause of your insomnia. Even if medicine is used for insomnia, you should still keep up good sleep habits.

Contact us to learn more about the benefits of a comprehensive medication review by a Certified Geriatric Pharmacist

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