By the Weil Vitamin Advisor Editorial Staff
Considering the risks, that's too many.
Consider Zolpidem, sold under the brand name Ambien. Warnings and precautions for this common sleep pharmaceutical include impaired alertness and worsening of depression.
More bad news: Takers may experience "'Sleep-driving' and other complex behaviors while not fully awake."
The drug can also have withdrawal effects if discontinued quickly. All in all, this and other prescription sleep aids are "far from ideal," said Tieraona Low Dog, M.D.
"Sleep should be gentle, nurturing, and renewing," she said. "It's our retreat from the struggles and stresses of daily life into an entirely different world – one that, ideally, makes us happier, healthier and more balanced for having visited."
Prescription sleep aids, she said, "essentially fling you into this world by force. While they may be necessary for some people with intractable sleep problems, there are far better ways to make the journey."
The most important thing to know about natural sleep aids, she said, is that they are not necessarily pills.
"Home should be our sanctuary from the world. To encourage quality sleep, the bedroom should be the most protected, nurturing and sacred space in that sanctuary," she said. "No TV. No computers. It should be a calm, quiet, restful space, with colors and textures that soothe and uplift."
Other natural sleep aids may include a white noise generator to mask urban noises with the sounds of gentle rainfall or chirping crickets, and thick curtains to block streetlights or car headlights.
Once these measures are in place, "natural supplements can definitely help many people get the quality sleep they need," said Dr. Low Dog.
There is a wide variety to choose from based upon your particular sleep pattern. Combinations of valerian, hops and/or lemon balm have been used for centuries to promote safe, restorative rest and sleep. Vervain can be used to enhance dreaming, as well as sleep. Indigenous peoples of the what's now the western U.S. relied on California poppy to help ease pain and encourage rest. Chamomile is gentle enough to be used by children and elders alike. The trick is finding the herb best suited for you.
Another popular sleep supplement is melatonin, a hormone that regulates the sleep/wake cycle. Extensive research has shown it is beneficial for those who have a hard time falling asleep, especially those over the age of 50. Dr. Low Dog recommends 2 mg sustained-release melatonin, based upon European research that suggests this is the optimal amount.
For information and a supplement recommendation that fits your unique sleep needs, visit the Weil Vitamin Advisor! Its Sleep Evaluation assesses your particular sleep problem. Then it accounts for your unique lifestyle, medications and health conditions to generate a unique supplement and lifestyle-advice solution that's just right for you, and only you.
|Why Dreams Are Vital To Health|