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Is Sleep Medicine Safe?

Is Sleep Medicine Safe?

One in three American adults reports that they can’t get enough sleep. While some are just overworked and literally can’t find the hours their body needs for shut-eye, for many a sleep disorder is to blame.

At The Spine and Sports Center in Houston and Sugarland, Texas, our board-certified sleep medicine specialist Dr. Ed Benny can diagnose sleep issues and prescribe the appropriate sleep medicine to help you get the rest your body needs.

Sleep disorders

There are many different types of sleep disorders, some of which may be responsive to medicine and some of which may not. The type of issue causing your sleeplessness will determine your treatment, so Dr. Benny discusses with you your general health and specific symptoms to find out what’s causing your problem.

Disorders like sleep apnea, which consist of breathing interruptions during sleep, and narcolepsy, which makes you fall asleep abruptly and without warning, won’t benefit from treatment with sleep meds. 

Other sleep issues like restless legs syndrome or movement disorders may be better treated with medication that targets the peripheral or central nervous systems, to dampen down incorrect signals to your brain or unwanted stimulation that causes dangerous activity, like sleepwalking.

However, for insomnia (trouble falling or staying asleep), abnormal sleep cycles (also known as circadian rhythm disorders), or daytime sleepiness (commonly called hypersomnia) sleep medicine may be the ticket to getting a good night’s sleep and waking rested and refreshed.

Types of sleep medicine

There are over-the-counter (OTC) sleep aids and prescription-only sleep medications. 

OTC meds to help you fall asleep include antihistamines, which are commonly used for allergies, but have the side effect of causing drowsiness. You might also find natural supplements like melatonin or valerian, both of which help your brain get ready for natural sleep.

Prescription sleep medicine can include antidepressants, which are usually prescribed “off-label” to help people fall asleep, benzodiazepines, which are useful for people whose anxiety prevents them from falling asleep or staying asleep, or “Z-drugs,” which are sleep medicines specifically meant to help with insomnia.

The safety of sleep medicines

Like any medication, there are risks associated with drugs taken for sleep issues. Overuse of antihistamines can cause dizziness, headache, agitation, and even tachycardia. Overuse of prescription sleep medicine can lead to dependency, and overdose can lead to brain damage or even death.

Dr. Benny carefully discusses the risks and benefits of sleep medicine with you before prescribing any drug, and you will need to carefully track how you respond to the medication. For most people, sleep medicine is intended for short-term use only, while your body “resets.” Eventually, you can stop taking the medication, and you’ll be able to fall asleep naturally.

To schedule a consultation to discuss your sleep difficulties, get in touch with The Spine and Sports Center by calling our location closest to you or booking an appointment online today.

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