Can't Sleep? What You Can Do Before Getting on Sleeping Pills.

There are many reasons why you may not be able to sleep. The number one reason is poor sleep habits. Eating or drinking foods with a lot of caffeine that can keep you up such chocolate, teas, and sodas. Some foods may say they have no caffeine but may have other ingredients that act like caffeine hidden in their label. Exercising before bed or working late without time the necessary time to wind down. Watching TV or reading for long periods of time in bed can wire your brain to associate your bed with staying up and paying attention rather than winding down and shutting off. You could have a medical condition that affects your sleep such as hormone or blood sugar problems, thyroid disease, nutritional deficiencies, or chronic pain. Stress, anxiety, depression and other psychiatric disorders often impact sleep, which of course then makes those conditions worse. Alcohol , marijuana and other drugs can help put you to sleep but may not give you the best quality of sleep. So you may be fooled into thinking your sleeping better when using drugs and/or alcohol but in reality your brain isn’t getting the deep sleep it needs. Also, unfortunately, we live in a culture that doesn’t always allow for flexible sleep schedules. Your body may not be able to conform to the typical 10 at night and awake at 6 am routine. You may be someone that does better sleeping in 2-3 hour spurts, or maybe you do better going to bed early in the morning and sleeping during the day. But your home, work, school responsibilities may not allow for that.  If you can adjust your school or work to accommodate a sleep schedule that better fits you that could make a big difference There are also sleep disorders that often require a sleep study to diagnoses and treat. This includes sleep apnea or restless legs, for example.The first thing to do if you have sleep issues is do a deep dive into your sleep hygiene including activity, diet, stress level. There are apps that can measure your sleep time and quality but they aren’t always that accurate and can be misleading. Before asking your doctor for sleeping pills make whatever life style changes you can such as diet changes, stress reduction, exercise (not before bed). Maybe some natural supplements can help such as melatonin- make sure you ae not taking too little but not too much. Most experts suggest 3-10mg. Some people need higher dose melatonin and some less. Camile tea, magnesium. Valerian, CBD (not marijuana with THC) root, kava, l -theonine are other over the counter supplements that may work. Some people do better on one than other or need a combination of a few. Check with your doctor before taking any supplement to make sure they are safe with any medicine you take or health condition you may have. Just because it’s over the counter doesn’t mean it’s safe. If you do need sleeping pills, try not to use them every night. Next blog, I will discuss sleeping medications-pros and cons.

Author
Michael Banov MD Dr. Banov is the medical director of Psych Atlanta, with locations in Marietta and Roswell, Georgia, and provides comprehensive outpatient psychiatric care for adult patients. Dr. Banov is triple-board certified in adult, adolescent, and addiction psychiatry as well as a certified clinical research investigator. Dr. Banov completed his Bachelor of Arts in Religion at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. He went on to earn his Doctor of Medicine at the Emory School of Medicine in Atlanta. He completed his psychiatry residency at McLean Hospital, Harvard Medical School. Dr. Banov has conducted over 150 clinical research studies in all aspects of psychiatry, including anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He has written over 25 scientific papers and articles. Dr. Banov shares his experience and knowledge as an assistant clinical professor at the Medical College of Georgia.

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