Sleeping pills and supplements can provide the convenient and reliable relief of a guaranteed good night’s sleep. But not all are created equal and some could prove to be more of a quick fix rather than the long-term sleep solution you need. Read on to find out how to avoid sleeping pills which will leave you in the dark, in favour of those which will see you drifting off on the cool side of the pillow!
Women & Sleep
Studies have shown that as many as 47% of women have trouble sleeping, with the most common complaint being sleep duration of less than 6 hours per night. As women progress throughout the life cycle this prevalence increases to 60% during perimenopause and as much as 80% for postmenopausal women1.
Getting quality and quantity when it comes to sleep isn’t always a given. As with all aspects of your health, a holistic approach to sleep promotion is required – but if you’ve tried everything and sleep really is still a struggle, then sleeping pills or supplements may be the solution you need.
Potential Pitfalls of Sleep Prescription and Supplements
Not all sleeping pills and supplements are created equal, so let’s take a look at the potential pitfalls of each – as well as how to choose a good supplement that will help you to sleep soundly.
- Artificial vs. Natural Sleep
Strong synthetic sleeping pills can have the same effect on the brain as alcohol, they target the neuronal receptors which stop brain cells from firing2. This mechanism is more of an ‘off switch’ compared with your body’s natural and gradual winding down and relaxing process. Studies have shown that brainwave activity during sleep induced by some sleeping pills vs. natural sleep is inferior in many ways, including memory consolidation, regulation of stress hormones and cell replenishment3.
- They Can Be Habit Forming
As with most medications, the more exposure to sleeping pills the more the body will develop a tolerance4. In other words, you need a higher dose of the same sleeping pill to get the same desired effect. With some strong sleeping pills, this is a scarily vicious circle which is incredibly habit-forming and can hard to break free from5.
- Latent Side Effects Can Make You Feel Worse
The sedative effect of strong and synthetic sleeping pills takes some time to dissipate and can creep into the next morning and beyond. Common residual effects6 of sleeping pills include drowsiness, brain fog, forgetfulness, grogginess and a lack of concentration the morning after.
- Poor Quality Ingredients
Some sleep supplements utilise cheaper ingredients which are easier to source but reduce the quality of the supplement itself. Even when reputable, potent and effective ingredients are used, the active ingredients are often bulked out with fillers and artificial ingredients to cut costs.
- They’re Sometimes Not Backed Up by Science
Tests have shown that sleep supplements can be frighteningly different to what they say on the tin. For example, studies have found that over 70% of melatonin supplements on the market contain 10% or less than the labelled amount of melatonin7.
It’s clear to see that not all sleep supplements are created equal and that some are better than others. But not all sleeping pills and supplements are bad news, it’s simply a case of choosing the one which is best for you.
How to Choose A Good Quality Sleep Supplement
Prescription sleeping pills as recommended by your doctor may be the easiest and most effective answer to your chronic sleeping trouble. But if you are looking to work with your body to encourage its natural sleep mechanisms and improve your sleep long-term, then a herbal sleep supplement could be the sleep solution you need.
When choosing a sleep supplement you shouldn’t have to compromise when it comes to the above potential pitfalls. There are lots of great sleep supplements out there that provide all the amazing benefits to sleep quality and quantity, without having to deal with adverse side effects, poor quality ingredients or misleading promises. Here are three things to look out for when seeking out the very best sleep supplement.
- Developed by Experts
The best supplement manufacturers will work with professionals such as herbalists and pharmacists to ensure the quality and effectiveness of the finished product. Sleep is a science and understanding exactly what it is that encourages a deep and replenishing sleep is a vital first step before you can even begin to create a sleep supplement. The best sleep supplement manufacturers will work with a team of experts to research, develop, create and test their product to make sure that it is safe and effective. This involves batch testing and quality assurance at every stage of production.
- Premium Ingredients
When looking for a sleep supplement you’ll find lots of really useful information and evidence which will guide your search in the direction of some well researched sleep-enhancing ingredients. You get what you pay for when it comes to any supplement, so it’s always worthwhile doing your homework and investing in a better quality supplement so you can sleep easy and be confident that you’ve spent your hard-earned cash wisely.
Ingredient transparency and buying from a reputable source are key when it comes to ensuring premium ingredients. Look out for natural ingredients which are listed clearly and aren’t bulked out by harmful fillers, bulking agents and artificial additives.
- Effective Dosage of Active Ingredients
Once you are sure that you are buying from someone you trust, who is in the know and is using the best evidence-based ingredients – the next step is to ensure the supplements provide a potent and effective dose of each active ingredient.
Having a sleep-enhancing ingredient within the supplement isn’t all it takes, the active ingredients must be present in high enough amounts for them to actually be effective. Studies and research into the benefits of sleep supplements will always base their conclusions around recommended doses and amounts, so it’s important to know exactly how much of each ingredient is in every capsule.
You’ll be able to find out more about this on the manufacturer’s website and by asking them outright! Remember, the good guys in the world of sleep supplements will be more than happy to help you and will have nothing to hide.
When it comes to empowering your sleep, a holistic approach is needed. Healthy habits instilled into your everyday such as hydration, nutrition, movement and mindfulness combined with herbal sleep supplement are often effective sleep solutions. But if your healthy lifestyle & natural sleep supplement isn’t proving enough to encourage a naturally deep and revitalising sleep, then prescription pills in a short-term may provide the welcome relief of a great night’s sleep. Sleep supplements may prove a more natural and healthier alternative to synthetic sleeping pills. Be sure to choose a supplement which is well-researched, contains natural ingredients in effective doses and isn’t bulked out with harmful fillers or additives.
References used in this article:
- Women’s Sleep Disorders: Integrative Care
- Sights of Action of Sleep and Wake Drugs
- Randomised clinical trial of the effects of prolonged-release melatonin, temazepam and zolpidem on slow-wave activity during sleep in healthy people
- Can Sleeping Pills Lose Effectiveness?
- Patients with Treatment-Resistant Insomnia
- Residual Effects of Sleep Medications
- Melatonin Natural Health Products and Supplements