Dr Oz: Sleep Aids
According to Dr Oz, 40 million Americans rely on sleep aids to try and get more rest at night. But are they working? That’s what this hour was all about, and Doctor Oz wanted to help everyone get to the bottom of the connections between sleep deprivation and health. Check out his Sleeping Pill Quiz to get some answers.
Did you know that more than 60 million prescriptions for sleeping pills were written in 2011? That number sounds out of control! New research links sleeping pills to depression, acid reflux, and cancer, with more harmful side effects found in women.
But could how you are taking these medications make all the difference? Dr Oz had five questions, as well as a list of dos and don’ts to help you make sure you are taking these medications correctly.
Dr Oz: Over The Counter Sleep Aids Vs Prescription Sleeping Pills
Sleep specialist Dr Michael Breus was back on Dr Oz’s show to talk about why we are so desperate for that seven to eight hours of sleep each night. That desperation is part of the reason people have so much trouble resting.
Sleep aids are not meant to be taken on a regular basis. Dr Nina Radcliff, an anesthesiologist, pointed out that doctors have more control over prescription medication than what is available over the counter.
Patients have to be responsible for their own decisions, especially when it comes to OTC medications.
Dr Oz Sleeping Pill Quiz
Here are the five questions Dr Oz said you should ask yourself before you reach for another sleep aid. See what you would answer to these questions, and discover why that may be so important.
How often do you take a sleeping pill?
In an online survey, 30% of Dr Oz’s audience said they take a sleeping pill at least one night each week. This is alarming because it creates a psychological dependency, sometimes without you even realizing it.
Do you take a sleeping pill to fall asleep or stay asleep?
Dr Breus explained that sleep onset insomnia, which keeps you from falling asleep, is just one form of the problem of sleeplessness. There is also sleep maintenance insomnia, or what he likes to call roller coaster insomnia. That’s when you wake up frequently throughout the night.
“You have to make sure that your compound or your medication has actually been tailored to the type of sleep problem that you have,” he said.
Different types of medications work for different types of sleep problems. There are some medications that are designed to be taken in the middle of the night, that won’t last as long. But that is not your only option.
Dr Oz’s best advice was to seek out a specialist if you have an ongoing sleeping problem. Since good sleep is so critical for good health, he thinks this is worth the investment.
Would you take a sleeping pill in the middle of the night?
One third of those surveyed on Dr Oz’s website answered yes to this question. But Dr Radcliff said you should not take a sleeping pill unless you have a full seven hours left to sleep. Otherwise, you could still be under the influence when you wake up and get behind the wheel to go to work.
She compared it to being drunk or hung over. The experts agreed that it’s not safe to take many sleeping pills in the middle of the night.
Have you ever taken someone else’s sleeping pill?
Over 25% of Dr Oz’s audience admitted they had taken another person’s sleeping pill. An audience member said she has taken her husband’s pill out of desperation. She does it if she has had three consecutive nights of low sleep.
“By the end of the fourth day, I’m desperate, and I start to get anxious,” the woman said.
Dr Radcliff explained that this could be very dangerous, because pills are prescribed based on gender, age, and weight, as well as other medications. That’s why taking someone else’s prescription could be harmful or cause a bad reaction.
Would you take a sleeping pill after eating a high-fat meal?
This might seem like a weird question; 27% of those surveyed answered yes. But Dr Radcliff explained that fatty meals can delay the effects of a sleeping pill, taking longer to go into effect or not working the way you wanted.
Dr Oz: Digestion Affects Sleeping Pills
Food and medicine is supposed to be broken down and absorbed into the small intestine. But if you are eating fatty meals, those are harder for gastric juices to break down, and that can slow your digestive process, as well as the absorption of medications.
Dr Oz: When To Take Sleeping Pills
When is it OK to take sleeping pills? Dr Radcliff said that a change in routine can sometimes be a reason to take sleeping pills. If you are changing time zones, it may be hard for you to fall asleep when you need to.
Stressful situations, such as the death of a loved one or going through a divorce, can also be times when sleeping pills are very helpful. But she stressed that these are short-term situations.
Dr Breus said that you should take your first dosage of a new medication on a Friday night. That way if you have a hangover the next morning, you might be able to sleep in longer. He also recommended having someone with you in case you have an adverse reaction.
Dr Oz said that sleeping pills are OK to use in the short term, and he recommended limiting their use to three months or less.