A lot of insomniacs or sleep disorder sufferers are increasingly switching from prescription medication to a natural sleep aid. The benefits of a natural sleep aid are becoming more apparent and appreciated these days as the incidence of prescription pill abuse and misuse have been skyrocketing in the past decades. Addiction and dependency on sleeping pills have brought more harm and suffering to insomniacs than long-lasting help or relief.
A natural sleep aid means that it does not contain any medical substance or chemicals that alter the body’s functioning in a fundamental way, such as directly to the nervous system or brain. Benzodiazapenes are one of the earliest discovered and still-prescribed drug-based aid that acts in this intrusive manner. These drugs are also called sedative hypnotics. Pharmaceutical companies have come up with a non-benzodiazapene type of medication that produces the same effect but with less side effects and less propensity for developing dependency among users, but this drug still has to be prescribed and dispensed under lawful control.
An insomniac may choose to take a natural sleep aid, but there are still a lot of individuals who prefer a common and readily available medication such as antihistamines. Antihistamines are actually medication for allergic reactions. Histamines are chemicals in the brain that cause wakefulness. Therefore, antihistamines block these substances and induce sleep. Diphenhydramine is a popular type of antihistamines. Another medication similar to diphenhydramine is doxylamine.
A natural sleep aid may be preferred over such medicine as diphenhydramine and doxylamine because they have fewer side effects. Antihistamines would be advisable to take only for short-term management of insomnia. Long-term use may lead to adverse side effects and physical symptoms.
A natural sleep aid that is enjoying popularity and patronage among sleep disorder sufferers is melatonin. It is a naturally occurring hormone in the human body whose peak levels at night is associated or correlated with sleep. When light is perceived by the human body, melatonin levels decrease. Thus, melatonin supplements seek to consistently maintain the high levels of the hormone, recreating the body’s conditioning toward natural nighttime sleep.
However, studies have not conclusively substantiated the effects of melatonin supplements as a natural sleep aid. Its long-term effects have also not yet been studied or observed. There are other types of herbal sleep aid such as supplements composed of plants and botanicals like chamomile, lemon balm, lavender, and St. John’s Wort. Those who are familiar with these natural ingredients may come up with a home remedy sleep aid themselves. A popular ingredient or additive is the valerian herb or valerian root.
Another option for a natural sleep aid is psychotherapy or cognitive behavioral therapy. No drugs are taken in this course of treatment; rather, a behavioral specialist or doctor assists the insomniac in dealing with the anxiety, fears, stress or negative emotions that may be the underlying cause of insomnia. A lot of patients have undergone this type of non-drug based treatment with lasting success. There may still be doubts regarding the concept of natural sleep remedies and their effectiveness, but natural sleep aid is still far less harmful than prescription treatments.