Use of sleeping pills harmful in the long run
Sleeping spills are 'counter-productive' and offer no real benefit in treating insomnia.
Sydney: Sleeping spills are "counter-productive" and offer no real benefit in treating insomnia, says a sleep expert.
"Most people who take hypnotic (sleep inducing) drugs still have poor sleep. It re-mediates the problem in the short-term but it almost always produces a long-term consequence, which is drug dependence," said Leon Lack, professor of psychology at Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia.
"Sleeping tablets provide short-term relief but when people stop taking them, they might have a few bad nights and think they can't sleep without taking the drug," he was quoted as saying in a Flinders' statement.
"Effectively you buy a bit of sleep on your credit card but then you have to pay it back later, sometimes with interest, so in the long-term you don't gain anything. You just offset the insomnia."
Insomnia is defined as persistent difficulties falling asleep, maintaining sleep, or both, resulting in impaired daytime functioning.
"What's particularly frustrating to people with insomnia is that very few things work for them. So they feel a loss of control, depression and their quality of life is diminished," Lack said.
"But it is important for people to realise that sleep isn't just one long, homogenous period of unconsciousness—we go through different stages of sleep, from a deep sleep which lasts 80 to 90 minutes into a lighter, dreaming sleep, and over the course of a night we experience this pattern three or four times.
"During the light sleep stage, you're likely to awaken - which is perfectly normal and increases with age— but the media's constant reports about the importance of a solid eight hours sleep create anxiety and anxiety in the middle of the night is not conducive to sleep. So then it becomes ingrained," Lack said.
"If you don't fall asleep within 15 minutes of going to bed then get up. Don't lie there awake because that associates the bedroom with frustration and anxiety."
Difficulty falling asleep can also be caused by a delayed body clock, he said.
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