If You’re Suffering from Insomnia, These Tips May Help

Can’t fall asleep or get a full night of sleep? You may find yourself tired and sleepy during the day, feel more irritable, have poor concentration, make more mistakes, and out of sorts.

Here are some tips to help you get better sleep:

• Keep your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet.
• Use eye masks, earplugs, or white noise, if necessary
• Keep a regular sleep schedule, even on the weekends
• Get regular exercise but avoid exercising in the late evening
• Do not nap during the day
• Avoid alcohol before bed. Alcohol may make you sleepier but it is not good for the quality of sleep
• Avoid eating heavy meals before bed
• Avoid caffeine within four to six hours of bedtime (caffeine can stay in your body for several hours)
• Meditate, Read, or do relation exercises and deep breathing before bedtime
• Stay away from all electronics before bed
• Put your phone in “do not disturb” mode
• Have your pharmacist check your medicines, in case any of them keep you from sleeping (stimulants, some antidepressants, etc.)
• Have your hormone levels checked. Hormonal imbalances can cause insomnia
• Adrenal fatigue syndrome may contribute to insomnia. A simple saliva test to check your adrenals can help determine the cause of your insomnia (ask us at Community Clinical Pharmacy)

There are many supplements, OTCs, prescription medications, and herbal treatments available in the US market for insomnia. Below, you see a list of some options.

Melatonin (OTC)

Melatonin may help you fall asleep when used short term (up to 4 weeks). The most commonly reported adverse effects are headache, dizziness, nausea, and drowsiness. Other side effects that have been reported are transient depression, mild tremor, mild anxiety, abdominal cramps, irritability, reduced alertness (confusion or disorientation), and low blood pressure.

There are some case reports of increased risk of seizure with melatonin treatment. Not all melatonin products are safe as some contain contaminants. Most commercial melatonin is made in the laboratory. However, in rare cases, it can be derived from animal pineal gland and should be avoided due to the possibility of contamination

Valerian (OTC):

According to research, taking valerian orally can modestly reduce the time to fall asleep and can improve sleep quality (although some research suggests no benefit in taking Valerian). If you decide to try it, take it up to 2 hours before bedtime

Chamomile (OTC):

Clinical research suggests that taking chamomile does not improve total sleep time, sleep efficiency, the time it takes to fall asleep (sleep latency), sleep quality, waking after sleep onset, or number of awakenings when compared with placebo

Antihistamines (OTC):

(Benadryl, Diphenhydramine, Sleep Tabs, ZzzQuil, etc.) are inexpensive and widely available. Not recommended for the elderly. Side effects: dry mouth, confusion, urinary retention (difficulty urinating), etc.

Prescription Drugs for Insomnia

“Z-drugs” (zolpidem, zaleplon, etc) are affordable and possibly useful but remember that they can cause serious injury or death due to sleepwalking, sleep-driving, etc.

Ramelteon (Rozerem) is similar to melatonin and does not cause addiction or dependence

Drugs such as Belsomra, Dayvigo block chemicals in the brain that promote wakefulness to help you fall and stay asleep, although they are both habit-forming (may cause addiction)

Some antidepressants and other medications may help you sleep better. It is very important to talk to your pharmacist or health care provider about the risks and benefits. Some medications and herbal products may interact with each other or cause unwanted side effects.

Feel free to reach out to one of our knowledgeable pharmacists with questions on what may be a good option for you.