In our fast-paced lives, getting a good night’s sleep can be a challenge. Many people turn to sleeping tablets to help them catch up on that elusive slumber. While these medications can be effective in the short term, taking them every night raises important questions about safety and potential risks. In this blog post, we will examine the potential dangers of taking sleeping tablets regularly and explore the consequences of relying on these medications for extended periods.
The Safety of Daily Sleeping Tablet Use
Using sleeping tablets, whether prescribed or over-the-counter, to aid in sleep can be a temporary solution for some. However, taking them every night over an extended period raises a few concerns:
Tolerance: Your body may become used to the medication, making it less effective over time. As a result, you might find yourself needing higher doses for the same effect.
Dependence: Regular use of sleeping tablets can lead to physical and psychological dependence, making it difficult to fall asleep without them.
Side Effects: Common side effects of sleeping tablets can include daytime drowsiness, dizziness, and impaired coordination, which can affect daily functioning.
Cognitive Impairment: Extended use of sleeping tablets may affect your memory and decision-making.
The Risks of Long-Term Sleeping Tablet Use
Memory and Cognitive Issues: Some tablets that are prescribed for sleep, like diazepam and temazepam, belong to a group of all medicines called benzodiazepines that are potentially addictive and can cause problems with memory and attention.
Increased Falls: Some side effects of sleeping tablets can include dizziness and impaired coordination, making the risk of falls and accidents higher.
Mood Changes: Sleeping tablets can affect mood, potentially leading to increased irritability, anxiety, or depression.
Withdrawal Symptoms: Discontinuing long-term use of sleeping tablets can result in withdrawal symptoms, making it challenging to stop.
Strategies for Safe and Effective Use of Sleeping Tablets
If you’re considering or currently using sleeping tablets regularly, here are some strategies to ensure their safe and effective use:
Speak to your GP: Speak with your doctor about your sleep issues. They can assess your situation, review your medication, and monitor your progress.
Lifestyle Changes: Adopt good sleep hygiene practices, such as maintaining a regular sleep schedule, creating a comfortable sleep environment, and limiting caffeine and alcohol intake.
Behavioural Approaches: Techniques such as cognitive-behavioural therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) can be effective in managing sleep disturbances. CBT-I is an evidence-based therapy that helps you identify and change thoughts and behaviours that contribute to sleep problems. It’s highly effective in treating insomnia. It helps change negative thought patterns and behaviours related to sleep. Sleepio is a CBT-I treatment that works with you to develop a personalised insomnia treatment plan, empowering you to challenge negative thought patterns, establish healthy sleep habits, and enjoy restful nights of sleep.
Medication Alternatives: You may want to explore alternative medications that have a lower risk of dependence and fewer side effects. Your GP will be able to help you with this.
In summary, while sleeping tablets can provide temporary relief for sleep issues, taking them every night can pose risks, particularly when used over an extended period. It’s important to be aware of the potential dangers of regular use, including tolerance, dependence, cognitive impairment, and mood changes. If you have been taking sleeping tablets for a long time, it’s a good idea to speak with your GP, who will help you consider alternative strategies and adopt healthy sleep practices to address sleep problems effectively and safely. Achieving a good night’s sleep is essential, and understanding the potential consequences of long-term sleeping tablet use is a key step in maintaining your overall health and well-being.
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