Sleeping with the “Enemy”



Chad Straughan


Sleeping with the “Enemy”

Today’s society has provided us instant gratification on just about everything, including sleep, just ask Michael Jackson.  More and more of us rely on sleep aids to help us either fall asleep or stay asleep.  The literature speaks out on both sides, touting improved health benefits (maybe because we are getting a little shut eye) while at the same time shedding light on the addiction potential.  Let’s discuss a few of the available options.  I recommend having a discussion with your physician as to what is best for you.  Melatonin is a natural hormone that is often used to help you fall asleep.  Its effects may only last 4 hours, so you may find yourself waking sooner than you would like.  Of course, there are the over the counter “PM” products containing diphenhydramine, which exhibit drowsiness as the primary side effect (think Benadryl®).  These OTC meds may leave you in a haze the following day.  Moving into the prescription world, there is of course Ambien®, Lunesta®, Sonnata®, along with a few other similar drugs.  These drugs work on the GABA receptors in the brain “slowing it down” therefore allowing for sleep.  These classes of drugs are often associated with being addicting.  But it can be argued that any sleep aid is addicting.  Many sleep aids are associated with everything from addiction, daytime drowsiness to sleepwalking.  Keep in mind, you may find yourself walking the dog naked down the street at 2 am.  Or should I say, your neighbor may be witnessing this firsthand along with the cops.  I should also point out, trazodone; an “old school” antidepressant is now being commonly used off label to aid sleep.  In low doses, it has been shown to be an effective sleep aid with little addictive potential.  Given the various options on the market, one of these should be able to provide you with a good nights sleep!


Laura Olsen

Houston, TX