Pills should not be the first choice for a good night's sleep.
Pills should not be the first choice for a good night's sleep.

Sleep can come easily and naturally

SPORTY types can sleep easy knowing they do not need to pop a pill to ensure proper rest before competition.

Following the wave of recent media reports regarding the use of Stilnox by athletes, NPS reminds all Australians many options besides medicine are available for those having trouble sleeping.

NPS clinical adviser Philippa Binns said sleeping tablets including Stilnox - also known by its active ingredient zolpidem - were not the first-choice treatment for sleep disorders and using non-medical therapies was a better option.

"While popping a sleeping pill may seem like an easy option when you're finding it hard to sleep, these medicines can have side effects and consequences with long-term use," Dr Binns said.

"For this reason, non-medicine therapies should always be the first-choice when it comes to treating sleeping problems.

"These therapies are as effective as medicines but come without the risk of side-effects or dependency issues."

These alternatives address the issues that may affect sleep, including psychological, behavioural and environmental factors, with an emphasis on learning good sleep habits.

"While these therapies may take a few weeks to start working, studies have shown people will normally fall asleep faster and sleep better through the night as a result," Dr Binns said.

When a sleeping medicine is prescribed, it should be for the shortest duration possible or for intermittent use. "In the long-term, these medicines may not help," Dr Binns said.

"As well as the risk of dependence, you won't sleep as deeply as your body needs to so you may not feel rested the next day."

Dr Binns said if you had been using certain sleeping pills for a while, you may experience side effects when trying to stop, so it was best not to stop suddenly.

She advised speaking to your doctor for advice and strategies to stop using them.

 

TIPS FOR BETTER SLEEP

  • Try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day
  • Be as active as possible during the day
  • Reduce the amount of caffeine you have each day, and try to avoid caffeinated drinks after lunchtime.
  • Avoid naps during the day, or keep them to less than 20 minutes duration.
  • Avoid heavy meals, exercise or working on the computer late in the evening.
  • Relax for 30 minutes before going to bed (have a warm bath).
  • Don't stay in bed if you are awake for more than 20 minutes - go to another room and do something relaxing before trying to go back to bed.
  • For further information and tips for a good night's sleep, visit nps.org.au/sleep.

 

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