3 signs you’ve developed a tolerance to sleeping pills and what to do instead
Whether you suffer from chronic insomnia or occasional difficulty falling asleep, sleeping pills – including over-the-counter and prescription medications – can provide much-needed relief to help you achieve a good night rest. But over time, you may notice that these medications don’t work as well as they used to. If so, you may have developed a tolerance to this sleep aid. This sleep awareness week, rest better.
Below, we’ll share some of the common signs of sleeping pill tolerance and tell you what to do if you have one.
What are sleeping pills?
Sleeping pills are medicines or remedies that help you feel tired, so you can fall asleep and stay asleep. They can be used to treat a number of sleep-related issues, including insomnia and circadian rhythm disorders. Sleep aids come in a range of strengths and dosages, from natural supplements (like melatonin) to over-the-counter medications (like antihistamines) to prescription-only pills (like melatonin receptor agonists).
Some sleeping pills, especially powerful ones like benzodiazepines, can be habit-forming, and many are only intended for short-term use. Your doctor can advise you on the best sleep aid for you, depending on your general health and the cause of your sleep problems.
Signs of sleeping pill tolerance
If you regularly take certain sleeping pills before bed, you may start to develop a tolerance, which means your body gets used to the medication and your usual dose becomes less effective. These are some key signs that you might have a tolerance to sleeping pills.
Increase your dose
When you start taking a sleeping pill, you’ll probably take the same dose every night. However, over time you may notice that your typical dose is no longer as effective as it was when you started taking it and you need to take more to get the same results. This is one of the clearest indications that you are becoming tolerant to sleeping pills.
You may have trouble sleeping after you stop taking your sleeping pill, especially if you quit smoking suddenly. This is called rebound insomnia, and it can happen even if you only take the sleep aid for a short time. It’s a common side effect of stopping sleeping pills like benzodiazepines and Z-drugs, like zolpidem and zaleplon – which are sold under the brand names Xanax and Sonata, respectively.
Anxiety and irritability
Once you’ve developed a tolerance, you might have trouble falling asleep on a standard dose of your sleeping pill. As a result, you might stay awake and feel anxious or irritable about falling asleep. Then, if you haven’t had enough quality sleep, you might experience those feelings of anxiety and irritability the next day as well.
Natural Sleep Remedies To Try Instead
Worried about developing a tolerance to sleeping pills or experiencing the uncomfortable side effects of sleeping pills? You might consider switching to one of these natural remedies for sleep – Just be sure to speak with your doctor first.
Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced and released by the brain. When it gets dark at night, melatonin levels begin to rise, signaling your body to fall asleep. Levels drop as dawn approaches, indicating it’s time to wake up.
Many people take lab-made melatonin supplements to relax at night and fall asleep faster. In fact, melatonin is the most popular sleep aid supplement in the United States, used by approximately 27.4% of American adults, according to a study by SleepFoundation.org. It is also used to treat conditions such as jet lag, delayed sleep disorder, and circadian rhythm sleep disorder in people who are blind.
Tart cherry juice
Several studies have suggested that tart cherries, like Montmorency cherries, contain several properties that may help improve your sleep. For starters, tart cherries are a natural source of melatonin, a sleep hormone that regulates your sleep and wakefulness patterns.
In addition to this, tart cherries also contain a small amount of an amino acid called tryptophan. In the body, tryptophan is converted into serotonin, which can help improve the quality of your sleep.
Sipping caffeine-free herbal tea before bed is another natural way to fall asleep without relying on medication. Valerian root and chamomile teas, for example, have soothing effects that can help you relax and fall asleep.
In addition, lavender is another plant with soothing qualities, so drinking lavender tea might help induce sleep. However, there is no specific research on the impact of lavender tea on sleep yet. Likewise, researchers have found that passionflower could possibly be used as a treatment for insomnia, so having a cup of passionflower tea at night could be another good natural sleep aid.
Magnesium is a mineral that plays many important roles in the human body, from helping with muscle function and regulating blood sugar to making proteins and DNA. If you don’t have enough of it in your body, you might have trouble sleeping or struggle with poor sleep quality.
Some research has shown that taking magnesium supplements helps people with insomnia fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and get better quality sleep. It can also be a good alternative to melatoninwhich can make you groggy in the morning.
Gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA for short, is an amino acid found in the brain and in some fermented foods, teas, and other food products. Its role is to block chemical signals in the nervous system and slow down the brain, which has a relaxing effect on the body.
Take GABA supplements 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime can put your mind at ease, making it easier to fall asleep. And, like magnesium, GABA is becoming a popular option for people who want a natural sleep aid but don’t enjoy the hungover feeling they get in the morning after taking melatonin.
The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute medical or health advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have about a medical condition or health goals.