If you have found this page, there is a strong probability that you or someone you know have discovered just how essential sleep is. Insomnia and sleep deprivation can be debilitating, and have a big impact on people’s daily lives.
In the United Kingdom alone each month there are close to 20,000 online searches for sleeping pills which reinforces the UK’s relationship with insomnia.
In fact, sleep is as necessary to our survival as drinking and eating. Not only does a good night's sleep allow our bodies to rest, recover, and prepare for the next day, it also allows the brain to reorganize, store memories and even solve problems.
An extreme example of the effects of sleep deprivation can be found in the true story of 17 year old American Randy Gardner, who in December 1963 broke the record for the longest time a human has gone without sleep.
As a willing volunteer, Randy was able to stay awake for an incredible 264.4 hours. When he finally went to sleep in January 1964 he had broken the previous record of 260 hours by staying awake for 11 days and 25 minutes.
Although the young man had set out to prove to himself and the world that he could do it, his effort was recorded and monitored by a US Navy neuropsychiatric doctor, Lt. Cmdr. John J. Ross. The doctor reported that towards the end of his record breaking effort, Gardner showed some serious cognitive and behavioral changes, including moodiness, issues with concentration and short term memory, paranoia, and even hallucinations.
Long before Gardner's tireless record attempt was achieved, scientist had been aware that the brain is the vital organ for the management of sleep. In 1924 the German psychiatrist, Dr. Hans Berger, invented the electroencephalogram (EEG) machine which allowed the first systematic investigations of sleep, and led later scientist to investigate the role of brain's structures for the regulation of sleep, and wakefulness.
A major breakthrough in sleep studies came in 1953 when scientists first discovered that dream sleep was only part of a 4 stage sleep cycle, and characterized by rapid eye movement (REM) during sleep.
Sleep quality is defined not only by how long we sleep, but also by how well we sleep. Even an interrupted sleep can be as bad for us as delayed sleep, because night wakening disrupts the natural sleep cycle.
A good night's sleep should last between 7-8 hours, and needs to include all 4 stages of sleep:
This sleep cycle lasts around 90 minutes and is usually repeated five times per night.
Most modern sleep medicines fall into one of two categories; benzodiazepines and non-benzodiazepines and are often called hypnotic drugs after the Greek god of sleep, Hypnos. They are classified as psychoactive drugs, and have been designed to encourage sleep, treat insomnia, and sometimes used for surgical anesthesia.
The term hypnotic describes drugs that are used to begin, maintain, or lengthen sleep, but due to their calming and anxiety relieving effects, this family of pharmaceuticals are also related to sedatives. As a result of these two effects being so closely related, they are often referred to as sedative-hypnotic drugs.
|Benzodiazepine Sleeping Pills:||First developed in the 1950's, and refined throughout the 60's, and 70's, benzodiazepines are perhaps the most well-known sleep medicines, and branded names such as; Valium (diazepam), Xanax (alprazolam), and Ativan (lorazepam) are still widely prescribed, and acknowledged for the effective treatment of anxiety, panic attacks, and insomnia.|
|Non benzodiazepines Sleeping Pills:||Nonbenzodiazepines are the younger cousins of this family. Developed in the 1980's and 90's, and sometimes referred to as "Z" drugs. They include Zimovan (zopiclone), Ambien (zolpidem), and Lunesta (eszopiclone), and are generally prescribed for insomnia, or anxiety related to insomnia.|
Both types of medication work by boosting a chemical messenger in the brain called Gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA). This natural neurotransmitter blocks, or reduces, some of the brain's signals, and decreases the activity of the nervous system.
Hypnotic drugs are regularly prescribed for insomnia and other sleep disorders, with over 95% of insomnia patients being prescribed hypnotics in some countries.
Around 30% of adults in the UK are suffering from some of sleeping disorder. Out of that 16 million with sleep disorders, it has been estimated that 13% are taking or have been prescribed nonbenzodiazepines, while around 11% are taking benzodiazepines.
Sleeping pills can help when stress, travel or other disruptions that keep people awake. For long-term insomnia, behavior changes learned in behavioral therapy is usually the best treatment.
Children are not usually prescribed hypnotics unless they are being used to treat night terrors or sleepwalking, and elderly people are more at risk from the potential side effects of daytime fatigue and cognitive impairments, and when sleep medicine are prescribed it is usually at smaller doses.
The risks and benefits of various prescription sleeping pills can differ, and unless patients have already been prescribed a sleep medicine by their doctor, we recommend always consult a doctor before starting a course of new medicine.
Quality sleep can have a positive impact on physical and mental health. But the treatments also carry the risk
Because these sleep medicines have been around so long, there have been many clinical studies conducted on the effectiveness of benzodiazepine hypnotics and Z-drugs.
While these FDA approved sleep medicines have been proven effective for treating anxiety and insomnia, tests have also concluded that sleeping pills can have unwanted effects, and that the ideal and most prescribed treatment uses the lowest effective dose for the shortest possible amount of time.
It is also recommended that patients who do use these sleep medicines should not suddenly stop taking them, but should gradually discontinue in order to improve health without risking rebound insomnia.
If you are having recurring issues with either falling or staying asleep, make an appointment with your doctor. Finding the correct treatment is very dependent on trying to discover the cause of the insomnia.
It can sometimes be due to an underlying cause, and the sleep disorder is a symptom of something else such as a medical condition. If so, it can be diagnosed and treated.
Many insomnia sufferers have found that better sleep hygiene can improve the general quality of sleep. Sleeping on a regular schedule, exercising regularly, avoiding caffeine, reducing daytime naps to less than 30 minutes, and keeping stress in check have all been found to help. But there are times when the addition of prescription sleeping pills may help you get some much needed rest.
All prescription sleeping pills have risks, especially for people with certain medical conditions, including liver or kidney disease. Always talk with your doctor before trying a new treatment for insomnia.
Many hypnotic drugs are habit-forming and can leave some patients feeling groggy the next day and patients with pre-existing health issues should be particularly cautious.
Each sleeping medicine will have its own side effects, but some of the most common side effects of prescription sleeping pills include:
Clinical studies have shown that when correctly taken, the benefits of sleep aid are far greater than the mild side effects. In general, these studies confirmed that these treatments caused very few problems for patients, and side effects that were noticed did not last long, and tended to quickly disappear.
If side effects are consistent and become a concern, we recommend you contact you doctor as soon as possible.
Whether you buy your medication at the local chemist or from an established online pharmacy, it is always important to read the information leaflet and follow the correct dosage to ensure you the best results from any sleep medicine.
If you live in the UK, or most European countries you can buy sleeping pills online at our pharmacy without a prescription and benefit from speedy doorstep delivery.
Questions about the goods and services we offer can be directed to our customer service team 24-hours a day.
We look forward to helping you with an insomnia cure.