Beating Insomnia Without Medication

We all want sleep, but many of us have trouble getting enough of it! Last year alone, 42 million sleeping pill prescriptions were filled, which means Americans spent more than $3 billion trying to buy a good night’s sleep. Louise Sikowski was one of those pill-poppers.

“The medication, I couldn’t sleep with it, and I couldn’t sleep without it,” Sikowski says.

Sikowski isn’t alone. A recent poll shows 75 percent of people experience a sleeping problem at least once a week. Of all the sleeping disorders, insomnia is the most common. It occurs when a person has trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or when they wake up too early in the morning.

“Everybody has a sleeping problem,” says Flavia Consens, M.D., an assistant professor of neurology at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. “Eventually you all have problems, go through stress in your life and go through periods that you cannot fall asleep.” That’s why Dr. Consens believes taking medication to fix a sleeping problem should be a last resort.

“Most medications go through your liver, so the more medications you take that you don’t need will eventually put you at greater risk for liver damage,” she says.

Dr. Consens says there are a few simple things you can do to get the rest you need without raiding the medicine cabinet.

The first line of defense? Try changing your sleeping habits. Sikowski has been given strict bedtime rules by her physician. First, she is told to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Sikowski is not allowed to exercise after 6 p.m. and can’t have caffeine past noon. She is also prohibited from working on her computer at night, and she was advised to take the television out of her bedroom.

Dr. Consens says if you follow these rules and still can’t get to sleep, you could be suffering from allergies. Vitamin deficiencies are another possibility, so changing your diet could put you to sleep faster.

Now Sikowski is hoping her new sleep habits will help her get the rest she needs without medication.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (Ivanhoe Broadcast News)

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