We know America is sleepy with less than 50% of Americans saying that they are getting a solid night’s sleep. Because of her sleep deprivation, America is shelling out the big bucks to get some shut-eye to the tune of billions.
That’s Billions with a “B”!
Insomnia and sleepless nights are no joke! The sleep industry is making a killing off of half-awake, nowhere-near-fully-functioning people who just want to go back to bed.
The problem isn’t just that we, as a nation, aren’t fully alert most days. Rather, it’s the terrifying “side effects” of the sleep meds millions of people turn to for help.
If you look at the list of side effects listed on most of these meds, they will read just like any other:
- Dizziness or lightheadedness, which may lead to falls
- Gastrointestinal problems, such as diarrhea and nausea
- Prolonged drowsiness, more so with drugs that help you stay asleep
- Severe allergic reaction
- Sleep-related behaviors, such as driving or eating when not fully awake
- Daytime memory and performance problems
Daytime memory and performance problems?
Driving or eating when not fully awake??
This is where the outright dangers of taking sleeping pills come in resulting in the FDA requiring stronger “box” warnings on certain prescription insomnia medications including eszopiclone (Lunesta), zaleplon (Sonata), and zolpidem (Ambien and Ambien CR, Edluar, Intermezzo, and Zolpimist)
The Food and Drug Administration has reported finding 66 examples of patients who took the drugs and engaged in dangerous activities such as sleepwalking or driving while not fully awake, including 20 deaths linked to carbon monoxide poisoning, drowning, fatal falls, hypothermia, car crashes, and apparent suicide. 46 reports of serious injuries that weren’t deadly, including overdoses, burns, loss of limbs from extreme cold and self-injuries from gunshot wounds were also uncovered.
What’s worse, is that it’s all very unpredictable. FDA acting commissioner, Norman “Ned” Sharpless, said in a statement “These incidents can occur after the first dose of these sleep medicines or after a longer period of treatment and can occur in patients without any history of these behaviors and even at the lowest recommended doses. While these incidents are rare, they are serious and it’s important that patients and health-care professionals are aware of the risk.”
If this isn’t the alarm America needs to wake up to the dangers of being sleep-deprived, there’s no telling what it’s going to take.
We can start by putting down our electronic devices well before bedtime, cutting down on caffeine, and making sure we get plenty of water and enough exercise throughout the day. It’s also vital to stick to a regular, as-consistent-as-possible bedtime routine. Read, journal, relax and meditate, pray, etc. before turning out the lights in order to transition into a peaceful time of sleep. If you need a sleep aid, try the natural alternatives that aren’t full of dangerous ingredients that have the potential to put you or your loved ones in dangerous situations.
With a little tweaking in your daily and nightly routines, you may just be able to tell your body and mind that it’s time for some much-needed rest and actually get those coveted Zzzzzs.