Sleeping pills are dangerous

Sleeping pills are dangerous

When I had insomnia in the past, I experienced many negative side effects of sleeping medications. If you take a prescribed sleeping medication, you run the risk of developing addiction and many unpleasant physical and emotional problems. You may be more likely to crash your car, have accidents, and your work and relationships may suffer. You may become depressed, anxious, or even suicidal. Even the possibility of developing serious illness such as cancer and your overall mortality risk is increased.

Some research suggests that sleeping pills can help restore normal sleeping patterns if used for a short period of time, and perhaps they can in some cases. But are these few alleged successes really worth the countless horror stories of side effects and addiction? The experiences of those who have tried sleeping pills leads me to believe that the prescribing of sleeping pills for anyone is risky, at best. At worst, it is irresponsible verging on negligent. If you have, or know of a single person who has had a fully positive experience with sleeping pills, please e-mail me with the details.

Besides the more obvious negatives, sleeping pills can have an insidious yet devastating effect on your beliefs about sleep. So that far from curing insomnia, taking sleeping pills can actually worsen the problem. This is because when you take a pill for insomnia, you make two powerful and negative assumptions:

There is something wrong with me.

There is something external that can make me better.

This means that every night that you take a pill, you are reinforcing these two negative and erroneous beliefs. It’s simple: when you swallow a pill, you say to yourself ‘I can’t sleep unaided’ while at the same time investing that little tablet with the power to make you sleep. This means that any success in sleeping is attributed not to you, but to the pills. In basic terms, your belief is not in yourself, but in the medication. Thus your belief in your own ability to sleep is diminished. This negative reinforcement is one reason why, besides any physical addiction, sleeping medications are so powerfully psychologically addictive.

Many insomniacs prefer to self-medicate using alcohol. Because alcohol has a relaxing effect on the body, it can help you to nod off. For some people it can also mask the effects of sleep deprivation, making an evening engagement tolerable when they have missed the previous night’s sleep. But alcohol also dehydrates, depresses and can cause you to waken early with a full bladder, an adrenaline rush, and a pounding heart, as the chemicals leave your bloodstream. And of course there is almost always a degree of hangover when you wake after drinking alcohol which makes it unacceptable as a sleeping remedy.

There are also countless ‘natural’ remedies such as Valerian or over-the-counter medications such as Nytol. But just like prescribed medication, the only ones that have any effect will almost certainly leave you with some degree of drowsiness in the morning. And even ‘natural’ remedies hold a hidden danger: with all artificial sleep-inducing remedies, just as with prescription medication, you can come to trust and rely on the effect, making it impossible to rediscover and nurture your own natural ability to sleep unaided. Can you see how every time you take a prescribed sleeping pill, or self-medicate with ‘natural’ remedies or alcohol, you weaken your belief and so sabotage your natural sleeping capacity, pushing it further and further away? When you go to bed, instead of trusting in your own ability to sleep naturally, you, in effect, hand over ‘responsibility’ to the drug. Your belief in yourself and consequently your own ability to sleep is diminished every time you take any artificial remedy. This is why artificial sleeping aids cannot ever help even a moderate insomnia problem. The message is simple: when it comes to sleep-onset or maintenance insomnia, drugs don’t work.