The Unintended Consequences of Sleep Aids

No one ever sets out to abuse sleeping aids, at least that’s not the norm. Yet, so many people fall victim to the dangers of sleeping pills and become dependent or addicted to using them. Often, people are just so desperate to sleep they’ll try anything – from over the counter products to getting a prescription from a doctor for sleep aids. Here’s the story of how one woman went from insomniac to sleeping pill addict.

At the age of 28, Nicolette took a job as a secretary at a big-name bank working a much earlier shift than she was used to working previously, starting work at 7:30 a.m. each morning. Thanks to a lifestyle where the daytime hours went by too slowly and the nighttime hours went too quickly, Nicolette was constantly getting to bed late and then spending hours worrying about how little sleep she’d get if she didn’t fall asleep soon.

The anxiety from worrying about lack of sleep would keep her up for hours on end and eventually, for days on end. At the peak of her insomnia, when she just couldn’t take it anymore, she went to her doctor and got a prescription for Ambien.

Quicker than she ever could have imagined she started taking more than was prescribed, taking the pills before a night of drinking ended to get a head start on getting her precious hours of sleep. Within weeks she was abusing the pills and had become addicted to using the sleeping pills to get sleep.

After taking a step back and realizing that she could become one of the many people who overdoses on prescription sleep aids each year, she decided to get rid of them and address the real issues that make her unable to sleep. From poor scheduling and diet to healing past traumas and beyond, she had to put in some really hard work to get to a place where she could sleep without sleep aids.

It’s not always easy to see that abuse is on the horizon when it comes to sleeping pills, but you should remember that sleep aids are designed for very short-term use. If you need help, talk to a qualified medical professional before making any decisions regarding your sleep or your health.

Sandell, L. “Diary of A Sleeping Pill Junkie”. Glamour. (website). March 2008
  • 3 Commentsby Likes|Date
  • I'm a firm believer that sleep aids should only be taken occasionally. Used too frequently, you can become dependent on them, for sure. Plus, I tend to look at sleep as a natural thing, and I don't really think we should mess with it too much.
  • I agree @DeanD. I believe our bodies talk to us letting us know of issues or imbalances through pain, weight gain/loss, sleep problems, and more.

    Sometimes we find out about our health during physicals, but most of the time we are at our doctor, chiropractor, or naturopath because we are having symptoms and need to know the cause. Sometimes we are even "surprised" with issues that need attention when they are revealed in a physical or from blood work. I challenge that if we had paid closer attention or even if we just look back, our bodies were talking to us for a while. We were experiencing sleeplessness, exhaustion, muscle cramps, digestive issues, etc. I think it is wrong for doctors to prescribe medications that have nothing to do with healing; they only mask and are a temporary, immediate fix. Natural supplements with little to no side effects and no chance of abuse or addiction are available! I know because I use them and am making my body stronger in the process.

    We need to listen to our bodies and seek answers to why it is sending signals rather than masking this really important attempt at communication. We should seek out the cause whether it be mental causing the physical or physical causing the mental. The only meds that should be taken are for the healing or slowing of the chronic condition that is properly identified and diagnosed (and there are many natural supplements that can handle that too).

    I was a teacher of young children for over 20 years and I still hold steadfast to my belief that we do not address several extremely important areas in education. One of those is proper nutrition and physical activity for life and how to track our individual "normal" to recognize imbalance in ourselves. To complete that training, we need to teach that it is completely acceptable to seek help through many types of medicine without shame or concern. The final portion of that is to show children how to recognize physical and mental changes in friends and loved ones and SAY SOMETHING!

    Okay, so that was my extremely long (as usual) way of saying NO to sleep aides. They are a bandaid and a poor one at that...with high risks.
  • The body can get addicted to sleep aids very quickly. Even Benadryl can become addictive to sleep at night. I have a loved one who has struggled with sleep issues for 40 years. She just can't seem to get her brain to shut off. She's been to plenty of therapy and meditation and has done the work, but still struggles. She tributes a lot of it to her High stressful job and can't wait till the day she retires.

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