Remedying a Restless Life: Exploring Popular Sleep Aids and How They Work
Have you ever hopped out of bed in the morning and felt invigorated and ready to seize the day, feeling like nothing in the world could stop your momentum? If so, you probably had a great night’s sleep.
Unfortunately, studies have shown that roughly over 70 million Americans have some sort of trouble falling asleep or staying asleep during the night. Over time, this lack of sleep can manifest physiologically and drastically affect our lives.
Research has shown that many people who work irregular hours are twice as likely to develop a sleep disorder of some type, whereas those who keep generally normal hours have an easier time sleeping at night. Regardless, for those who have issues with sleeping properly, several sleep-aid remedies have been developed.
Here, we’ll explore a few popular sleep-aids and how they facilitate better sleep.
Sleep-aid devices vary widely, but the most popular is known as sound machines, or “white noise” machines.
White noise machines can be very basic or offer several features and options. Where some of these machines play soft, ambient noise or melodies that are designed to soothe you to a point of falling asleep, others play natural sounds such as the sound of moving water, waves crashing, blowing wind, and natural nighttime noises.
Some devices serve a different purpose, and these are largely used to reduce snoring or open airways. A CPAP device, or Continuous Positive Airway Pressure device, is often used by sufferers of sleep apnea, a condition characterized by breathing and stopping abruptly during sleep.
CPAP devices deliver a continuous flow of oxygen to keep pressure in the throat, making it difficult for the muscles to close and stop an individual from breathing. It’s important to note that some CPAP devices have been linked to throat and lung cancer due to volatile materials used in the manufacturing of this product.
Sleeping pills can be bought over the counter (OTC) or prescribed by a physician. The latter is usually for serious cases of insomnia or sleep deprivation.
Sleeping pills vary widely in their production, but all generally contain an antihistamine as their active ingredient. This is the same chemical compound that is commonly used in many OTC cold and allergy medicines, which are also known to cause drowsiness.
The most popular brands of sleeping pills use a form of antihistamine known as diphenhydramine at a level of 25 to 50 milligrams, which is known to cause profound drowsiness.
The main issue with sleeping pills is that a human being can become dependent on them, and may then be unable to fall asleep naturally for a significant amount of time thereafter.
Human beings are diurnal creatures, meaning that we sleep at night and are active during the day. As such, our bodies have evolved to respond to darkness.
Melatonin is a hormone that the brain produces in response to darkness. This is also responsible for helping to regulate your body’s internal 24-hour clock, otherwise known as a circadian rhythm. Additionally, melatonin also helps regulate sleep. And due to the fact that melatonin is produced in response to darkness, being exposed to light at night can reduce or halt melatonin production.
Melatonin supplements are often taken as a sleep aid. The normal dosage is between one to three milligrams taken around a half hour before you want to go to bed. Like sleeping pills, melatonin can cause extreme drowsiness but is considered a natural remedy. Regardless, use caution and consult a physician prior to engaging in any non-prescribed sleep remedy.
A human being’s sleep is directly related to physical and mental health. Without adequate sleep, you basically won’t feel as good or as healthy as you normally should. If you’re suffering from any type of sleep disorder or an inability to sleep, use caution and consult a physician prior to attempting to self-medicate.
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