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A Natural Sleep: Everyone Needs It, Not Everyone Gets It

September 2020

The best sleep is a natural one - without sleeping pills. Since the 1960’s people have been told there are medications that can safely help them fall asleep and stay asleep.

By the 1980’s it was well-recognized that these medications such as benzodiazepines should only be used for a few days to have any effect. It was also discovered that long-term use is associated with withdrawal if they are stopped too quickly.

There are now people who have been taking these medications for decades. Many are unaware of the risks. Some have experienced withdrawal symptoms when they tried to stop too quickly. People who take these medications often perceive that they need to be on these medications for the rest of their lives.

There is no safe sleeping pill. While there may be a modest improvement in sleep satisfaction for the first few days, sleeping pills do not work long term and can cause:

  • Attention and memory problems
  • Increased risk of falls, fractures and accidents
  • Daytime tiredness

If you are taking a sleeping pill and would like to taper off of them talk with your health-care provider such as doctor, nurse practitioner or pharmacist. Stopping sleeping pills suddenly can result in withdrawal symptoms.  

 

Why do you need natural sleep?

During a busy and/or stressful period in life, sleep is often the first thing to go. However, getting enough sleep and a good quality sleep is essential for physical, mental and emotional well-being. It is needed for optimal growth and development in children. It restores your body and mind for the day to come. Sleep helps to reduce stress, irritability, anxiety and depression. You are less prone to infections and illnesses such high blood pressure, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.  

 

Are you getting enough sleep?

1 in 4 school aged children do not get enough sleep. Kids sit too much indoors and get too much recreational screen time, both resulting in a poor sleep. Adults have trouble getting enough sleep and/or quality sleep due to school, work, family and other life demands. Older adults may have a decrease in their activity during the day resulting in more daytime sleep.

Changes to your sleep patterns are a normal part of aging. As you get older, less time is spent in deep sleep. Expect sleep to change as you age. You will not have the same deep sleep from your youth.

Sleep and your age

 

Sleep tips

  • Limit recreational screen time to 2 hours or less each day
  • Get regular physical activity outside
  • Find healthy ways to manage daily stress
  • Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day
  • Put down the phone and other screens at least 1 hour before bedtime.

 

Are you satisfied with your sleep?

At any age, it is essential to have a regular sleep routine. Include relaxing activities in the hour prior to the time you would like to be asleep.

Relaxing sleep promotion activities from people living within Prairie Mountain Health:

Dim lights

Fan (moving air)

Read a book

Heated pad

Pray or meditate

Listen to music

Deep breathing

Light stretches

Journaling/writing

 

If you have any comments or questions please email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Submitted by: PMH Safe Sleep Promotion Advocacy Committee
(previously called PMH Sedative Deprescribing Initiative)