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Nighttime Anxiety Medication: A Step-by-Step Guide for Insomniacs

Sleep disorder: Do I have insomnia?

Insomnia is a condition in which people experience trouble falling asleep, waking up early, having problems getting back to sleep, and daytime fatigue.

You can tell you are struggling with insomnia if you notice frequent awakenings throughout the night, feel tired in the morning and have trouble concentrating in the afternoon.

Unfortunately, insomnia is often a vicious cycle and often gets worse over time.

Over the course of time, sleep is disrupted, causing increased stress, and this stress causes insomnia.

Over time, the more you try to fix the problem by treating insomnia with sleep aids, the more the cycle continues. It’s an endless loop.

How does anxiety cause insomnia?

Your anxiety at night may contribute to sleep problems by causing you to worry about things in your life and creating stress.

When you’re stressed and anxious, your body produces adrenaline, which triggers your fight or flight response.

Adrenaline triggers the sympathetic nervous system, which increases heart rate and blood pressure. Both of these responses increase the likelihood of sleeplessness.

The more often you experience an episode of anxiety, the harder it becomes to fall asleep, but even when you do fall asleep, you find that you never feel refreshed in the morning.

Can insomnia also cause anxiety?

Multiple sleepless nights may also lead to increased anxiety because it causes a disruption in circadian rhythms, the body’s internal clock that controls our daily hormone cycles and moods. Lack of sleep in the evening can lead to a reduction in serotonin levels which may also contribute to anxiety.

Why is it important to treat insomnia?

If you fail to treat insomnia you may face the following consequences:

- Increased likelihood of suffering from stress

- Increased likelihood of suffering from depression

- Higher risk of accidents

- Higher risk of developing type II diabetes

- Losing productivity at work

- Increased risk of heart attack

- Increased risk of dying from cardiovascular disease

 

Why you must try treating sleep anxiety without medicines first

(important disclaimer, the information provided on this page is for informational purposes only. It is mandatory that you seek the advice of a certified medical professional before taking any psychiatric medications)

For years, the key advice for treating insomnia has been to rely more on lifestyle changes, exercise, meditation, and other techniques before looking at medications. 

the majority of medications are stimulants, and while stimulants can help you fall asleep, they can often cause side effects like anxiety or jitteriness.

1) Safety: Many people are concerned about the side effects of taking a prescription sleep aid. If you want to try lifestyle interventions first, it's important to understand that prescription sleep aids are generally safe.

2) Efficiency: There are many good natural remedies, including supplements, herbal teas, and other natural remedies. Many of these can be effective and are safer than prescription medications.

3) Cost: The cost of natural remedies is often lower than prescription medications.

4) Convenience:  Some natural remedies can be taken orally, whereas most prescription drugs require injections.

Sleep hygiene: How to improve your sleep quality without medication

Here is a list of 18 healthy sleep habits which may help you treat sleep anxiety before taking medication...

1. Keep the room cool. Make sure your room is at a comfortable temperature between 65 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The ideal room temperature should feel neither too warm nor too cold. Also make sure that the windows and doors are open, as well as the curtains and blinds.

2. Turn down the lights.

Using bright light before bedtime can interfere with your circadian rhythm.

Avoid using a cell phone or computer screen close to your bed.

Try to avoid using the computer for several hours before bed. If you need to use your laptop, set it up in another room and try to avoid using it for at least one hour before going to sleep.

3. Stay away from caffeine.

Caffeine affects sleep by stimulating your brain and keeping you alert.

This is especially true for people who experience trouble sleeping. Also try to limit the amount of alcohol you consume.

4. Relax and unwind.

Do some relaxing activities before bed. Reading is great. Exercise also helps.

5. Eat regular meals.

Eating within three to four hours before bedtime can help you get the rest you need.

6. Get a good night's rest.

Try to go to bed and get up at the same time every day. Avoid taking naps in the afternoon. If you cannot fall asleep within 30 minutes, take a short walk or listen to soothing music.

7. Take melatonin.

Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone produced by the pineal gland.

Some people find that melatonin can be helpful in improving sleep patterns.

8. Avoid stimulants.

Avoid energy drinks, cigarettes, and coffee, especially in the morning. These stimulants can disrupt your sleep cycle and keep you up.

9. Make the bed.

Clean up your room to make your bedroom look inviting.

10. Keep a consistent sleep routine.

The most important factor in having a good night’s rest is to maintain a consistent sleep routine.

This means getting into bed and going to sleep at the same time each night. Try to get at least eight hours of uninterrupted sleep.

11. Keep a healthy diet.

Make sure you eat regular meals and avoid eating late at night.

Try to avoid eating too much sugar and carbs. This can disrupt your sleep.

12. Have a relaxing bath.

A bath can relax your mind and body, soothe your muscles, and ease your mind. If you prefer, you can use Epsom salts to relax your muscles.

13. Try meditation.

Meditation is an excellent way to calm the mind and relieve stress. Try to meditate for 20 to 30 minutes before bedtime. You can also try listening to music or doing some yoga.

14. Practice relaxation techniques.

This can be done either alone or in a group. You can learn relaxation skills from an experienced teacher or through books and classes. Many relaxation techniques can help you achieve deeper sleep.

15. Reduce the noise.

Turn off the phone and computer. Close the door to your room and try not to have any noisy conversations.

16. Don’t nap during the day.

This can disrupt your circadian rhythm and keep you awake. Instead, take a brisk walk, read a book, or do some relaxing activities.

17. Avoid daytime stimulants.

Avoid energy drinks, cigarettes, and coffee, especially in the morning. These stimulants can disrupt your sleep cycle and keep you up.

18. Avoid alcohol.

Alcohol can cause sleep disruptions and keep you awake. Avoid drinking before bedtime.

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What are sleeping pills and minor tranquillisers?

Sleeping pills and minor tranquillisers are also known as anti-anxiety medications.

They are used by people who suffer from anxiety, panic attacks and insomnia.

These drugs are used to help people calm down, relax and fall asleep so that they can wake up refreshed in the morning. Sleeping pills can also be used in combination with other types of medication.

When to try sleeping pills

 If you're suffering from insomnia and your sleep habits are having a negative effect on your health...

And you have tried all the sleep hygiene tactics on this page with the guidance of a therapist who has experience helping people sleep.

Then, It may be time to seek professional help from a doctor.

It is advisable to try working with a sleep therapist first because they will be able to diagnose your sleep issues and design an effective treatment plan.

After several months of treatment, your sleep therapist can also determine if the medication you are taking is working for you.

In the case that you are experiencing anxiety, depression, or another mental health issue, your doctor can refer you to a mental health specialist for further evaluation.

If all else fails, you can always visit a primary care physician to help you deal with your insomnia.

How can medication treat sleep anxiety?

Medication may not be the first line of defence against sleep anxiety, but it is definitely one option to consider.

While there are medications for other types of anxiety and insomnia, many of which can cause side effects that are unpleasant and sometimes dangerous, sleeping pills and supplements can have minimal side effects and can be a very effective solution to nighttime anxiety.

Medications for sleep anxiety can be prescribed or taken over-the-counter.

One of the newest medications, which has shown promise in the treatment of insomnia, is zolpidem, also known as Ambien (Zolpidem).

Unlike many traditional sedatives that can make you feel tired, sleepy, and groggy, Ambien can help you fall asleep in just a few minutes, without causing drowsiness or jitters.

As a result, a growing number of people are turning to this medication as a safe alternative to traditional medications. And it can work.

The problem is that there are very few resources online about how to use this medication effectively, and even fewer resources about the best approach to taking it.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through how to effectively use Ambien in the safest manner possible.

Another option is Rozerem, which is a prescription sleep aid used to treat insomnia and excessive daytime somnolence.

There are some side effects associated with taking this medication, but most of them are mild, and they usually disappear once you discontinue the medication.

Many people choose to take nonprescription sleep supplements, which may include melatonin, valerian root, or lavender oil.

These can be helpful, but there are no guarantees that they will work. You should speak to your doctor about this option.

Other common sleeping pills and minor tranquillisers  (Benzodiazepines)

Here are some other common sleeping pills, minor tranquillisers and major tranquilizers that might be used to treat insomnia:

- Triazolam: a benzodiazepine-class medication;

- Flurazepam: a benzodiazepine-class medication, commonly used for anxiety, insomnia and seizures;

- Zaleplon: a sedative-hypnotic drug;

- Zolpidem: an imidazopyridine hypnotic

- Haloperidol: a phenothiazine antipsychotic

- Clonazepam: a benzodiazepine-class medication

- Lormetazepam: a benzodiazepine-class medication

- Temazepam: a benzodiazepine-class medication

- Trazodone: a triazolobenzodiazepine antipsychotic

- Flunitrazepam: a benzodiazepine-class medication

- Flumazenil: a benzodiazepine antagonist.

Using selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors for nighttime anxiety

SSRIs can also help with sleep problems and nighttime anxiety because they help increase levels of serotonin (the chemical that makes you feel happy and alert).

These medications work by blocking an enzyme in the brain that normally breaks down serotonin.

As a result, serotonin levels remain higher throughout the night and into the next morning. The increase in serotonin helps people who suffer from insomnia fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.

However, some people suffer from a condition called serotonin syndrome when too much serotonin builds up in the body.

Serotonin syndrome can be extremely dangerous and even lead to death. As such it is highly important that you seek advice from a medical professional before taking SSRIs. 

How long will I have to go on taking my medication?

The length of time you must remain on sleep medication is dependent on your individual needs. Many people stay on the same prescription for years. Others find that their condition improves over time, and no longer need to take medication.

Most commonly, people with primary insomnia will need to remain on their medication for at least three months before they can be considered “well”. For most people, this is a reasonable amount of time.

However, it is not uncommon for people to be prescribed medication for six months, especially if they are experiencing significant anxiety or depression.

While this is a relatively high risk, it is a safe option for patients who are experiencing severe and debilitating symptoms.

For some people with severe cases of secondary insomnia (those with sleep apnea or narcolepsy, for example), this may be extended to up to 12 months.

What is an effective dose of medication for sleep anxiety?

Most doctors start their client's on a low dose of medication, then gradually increase the dosage as needed.  common doses range from 1-4mg (0.5mg-2mg) of alprazolam, which is the active ingredient in Xanax, to 1mg (0.25mg) of lorazepam, which is the active ingredient in Ativan.

Some patients may benefit from taking one to two milligrams (0.5mg-1mg) of alprazolam, while others may require more.

If you don’t experience the desired results in one or two weeks, you can request a medical review.

Then depending on your case, your doctor may increase the dosage by half or quarter doses until the desired effect is achieved.

Over-the-counter drugs for sleep and nighttime anxiety

Common Over-the-counter drugs for sleep and nighttime anxiety include melatonin, nytol 

, and doxylamine.

Melatonin, which has been used for decades to treat jet lag and insomnia, has recently gained popularity due to its positive effects on mental health.

Nytol, commonly sold as NyQuil, is a sedating antihistamine. A common side effect of the drug is drowsiness, although it may also cause hallucinations. It has been linked to serious neurological disorders including stroke and brain damage.

Doxylamine is a sedating antihistamine and anticholinergic, which helps reduce the intensity of nighttime coughing. It is one of the most common medications used to help with sleep and insomnia.

While these drugs can help you fall asleep, they may not necessarily address the root cause of your nighttime anxiety. In fact, they may even make things worse.

How to safely come off sleep medication and 

benzodiazepines

It is important that you don't stop your sleep medications cold turkey because withdrawal symptoms can be very severe.
Some withdrawal symptoms include feeling drowsy and tired, nausea and vomiting, headaches and dizziness, stiff joints, muscle and bone aches, rapid heart rate, irritability and anxiety, trouble sleeping, depression, loss of appetite, fatigue, weight gain, changes in mood, dizziness and vertigo, vision problems, hallucinations and psychosis, memory problems.

Withdrawal symptoms usually go away after 2-3 weeks, but if they continue to be a problem, it is important to speak to your physician immediately about tapering your dosage, and/or switching to another type of medication if needed.

 

Will your sleep medication and benzodiazepines interact with other medications?

It is common for benzodiazepines to interact badly with other drugs.

While you may need to take sleeping medication to help you get a good night's sleep, it is important that you consult your doctor before taking any new medication.

This is particularly true if you are also taking any anti-anxiety medication.

A good rule of thumb when taking any prescription or over-the-counter medication is to check with your doctor before taking the medication if you are already taking another drug, as interactions are not always as straightforward as they seem.

It is important to make sure that you consult with your physician before taking any new medication.

Now you can finally put your insomnia behind you

Remember that you are not alone. You don't have to suffer in silence.

There are so many options out there for managing your condition! The best way to find the one that works for you is to talk to your doctor.

He or she will be able to advise you on the most effective course of action.

Written by Adewale Ademuyiwa
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