There are Better Alternatives Than Sleeping Pills

It’s 3:37 a.m., and this is the fourth time you’ve rolled over to look at the clock in the last half hour. Should you keep lying there in the hopes sleep will come or do you get up and grab a snack or go read for a bit? Better make a decision quick because in less than three hours, you’ll have to get up for work, so you need to get back to sleep fast.

Sound familiar?

The occasional crummy night’s sleep is nothing to worry about. However, if you consistently have trouble sleeping and are considering using sleeping aids, rest assured you are not alone. In 2010, up to 10 percent of adults took a sleeping pill in the United States.

But you may want to think twice before you pop a pill.

New research shows that prescription sleeping pills are linked to an increased risk of death and certain types of cancer. A recent study suggests that people who use Ambien (zolpidem), Lunesta (eszopiclone) or Sonata (zaleplon) may be four times more likely to die than people who don’t take sleeping aids. The types of cancer include:

  • Esophageal cancer
  • Lymphoma
  • Lung cancer
  • Colon cancer
  • Prostate cancer

Tips for Better Sleep

Getting a good night’s sleep may be easier than you think. Try some of these tips to help you nod off.

  • Do not eat or drink two hours before bed – a full stomach makes sleeping difficult.
  • Banish technology from the bedroom – the lights emitted from your computer or smartphone interfere with your ability to nod off.
  • Keep the bedroom dark and cool – our body temperatures naturally lower at night so they can handle the cooler temperatures.
  • Exercise regularly – nothing will promote a great, restful night’s sleep like a hard workout.
  • Create a bedtime routine – have a hot shower or bath before bed.
  • Meditate before bed – it’s soothing and helps you wind down from the day.
  • Journal for about half an hour before bed – it helps you get rid of all the stress and craziness from the day.
  • Drink a cup of chamomile tea in the evening – chamomile and valerian root are considered natural sleep aids. Check with your doctor to make sure they don’t interfere with any regular medications you take.
  • Get up at roughly the same time every morning and go to bed at roughly the same time every night – we are creatures of habit and our bodies like when we’re on a predictable schedule.

I prefer a hot shower, journaling and meditation before bed. What’s your sleepy time ritual?


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