How To Come Off Sleeping Medication
The knockout effect of sleeping pills have become a default option for many insomnia sufferers. 86% of all Sleep School clients have been prescribed sleeping pills as a solution to their sleeping issues. However, sleeping medications are NOT a cure to insomnia but only a short-term management strategy. In many cases, sleeping pills can worsen sleeplessness in the long term.
Why you should avoid taking sleep medication
Sleeping medication should be avoided as it diminishes your trust in your natural ability to sleep. Remember, good sleepers don’t need to do anything to fall asleep. Notions such as ‘I won’t sleep unless I take my pills’, can be precisely what’s keeping you awake. The truth is that the very sight of a bottle of sleeping pills on your bedside table can feed your sleep anxiety and increase the likelihood of you experiencing insomnia in the long-term.
It is also important to keep in mind that sleeping pills are sedative hypnotics. They do not provide natural sleep. As such, they causes shortages of both deep and Rapid Eye movement phases of sleep. This is why many users report side effects of grogginess and nausea despite having slept for, perhaps, 8 hours.
Research has shown that long term use of sleeping pills double the risk of death. Sleeping pills were originally designed for short term use, with most treatments lasting no longer than 4 weeks (see NICE guidelines). However, due to the addictive nature of sleeping pills, many insomnia sufferers rely on these chemicals for a long period of time. This increases the tolerance, which can lead to accidental overdose. This can be fatal with essential bodily functions such as your heart initially slowing down and then stopping altogether.
The Sleep School tips for coming off sleep medication
If you find that you have become reliant on sleeping medication, perhaps it’s time to consider coming off of it. Below you can find the Sleep School’s tips for doing so – if you have been taking prescribed medication you should ALWAYS consult your doctor first to discover the best exit strategy for your particular prescription.
1. Don’t make any changes for at least 4 weeks
If you heavily rely on sleeping medication, take time to prepare for the possibility that your insomnia might worsen as you try to come off it. Invest some time into exploring drug-free options that can help you in your journey. Here at the Sleep School, we have developed the perfect drug-free tools to help you, and you can learn all about them here.
2. Don’t go cold turkey
The best rate of withdrawal for most sleeping medication is gradual. For example, reducing it by 25% less every two weeks allows for you and your body to gently adapt to its absence, both psychologically and physiologically.
3. Don’t do it alone
Telling a friend or family member about your decision to come off sleeping medication can help make it official and therefore increase your chances of staying on-track. At times, it can get tough and having someone to support and comfort you can truly make all the difference.
4. Allow for flexibility
Life has an annoying way of making it hard for us to stick to our plans, and that’s something you should account for. If you find that you’ve been knocked off course, it’s important to overcome your frustration and adjust your plan accordingly. You might have to start again in a week or so, once circumstances have changed for the better. The truth is that if you’re aiming for a lifetime of good quality natural sleep, a week or two will not make a difference. Just remember why you wanted to come off sleeping medication in the first place, and you’ll find all the motivation you need to start working on your plan as soon as possible.
For more information on Insomnia and how to come of sleeping pills, please download our new app “Sleep School for Insomnia”.