January 14, 2013

Avoiding Sleep Aid Addiction

How does sleep aid addiction begin? It varies from person to person. In some, it can begin with sleep disorders. Going without adequate or rejuvenating sleep can make people desperate. Certainly sleep medications can help on an occasional basis, but used for more than one or two nights, they can be habit forming and addictive. Many times, individuals who begin using sleep aids find that their sleep becomes more disrupted when they attempt to stop taking their medication. This is because the body becomes accustomed to the drug and unable to reach a deep sleep state without it. At this point, addiction gains a foothold as the use of the sleep aid becomes habituated.

What can you do to help yourself get a good night’s sleep without the use of pharmaceutical aids?

  1. Sleep where it is as dark as possible. The body is naturally roused by light. Unplug all electrical appliances that give off light. Close the curtains or blinds. Do not sleep with a nightlight or the television on. All these tricks will help your body and mind relax and sleep.
  2. Write a to do list before you go to bed. One of the reasons the mind races and prevents sleep is that we have so much to do the following day that we cannot let it go. We think and think about it, preventing sleep. Writing a to do list and having a plan of how you will accomplish the next day’s goals will help you to rest easy at night.
  3. Eat your last meal early. Finishing your last meal at least three hours before you go to bed will prepare your body for sleep. The first push of digestion will have passed and your body will be able to rest better if you don’t have a heavy meal in your stomach. Also, if you have nothing to drink right before bed, odds are you won’t have to get up in the night to use the restroom.
  4. Engage in gentle exercise. A light walk after dinner not only aids digestion, it also prepares the body for sleep. Getting a little after-dinner exercise will prepare your mind and body for bed.
  5. Meditate. If you engage in the practice of meditation, try five minutes before you go to bed at night. This will calm the mind and allow you to sleep more easily.
  6. Take a hot bath. Yes, this practice relaxes the muscles and the mind, allowing you to get to sleep more quickly and easily.

By applying these six simple practices to the best of your ability, you may be able to avoid a sleep aid addiction.

Please consult your doctor to discuss any health concerns, medical issues, and medications before attempting any changes.

Read the previous post on Stages of Change and Successful Addiction Recovery.

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