Insomnia Thinking Beyond the Medication!

Aug 21, 2012

By Barret Procyshyn, Pharmacist at the Dauphin Clinic Pharmacy

Try a ReadiBand Sleep Watch to See How You Sleep

There is nothing better than a good night of sleep and unfortunately there is almost nothing worse than tossing and turning your way to a poor night of sleep. Poor sleep can be associated with an increased risk of traffic accidents, depression, alcohol abuse, health care utilization and a decreased quality of life. It has even been associated with increased mortality.

Insomnia is characterized by any one or combination of the following; taking more than 30 minutes to fall asleep, not having a satisfying sleep or having a difficulty in maintaining sleep continuity. That means you have broken sleep or early morning awakening, which is quite common. Insomnia can also be present during the day causing impaired alertness, fatigue, mood changes, a lack of concentration, memory difficulty or inability to perform certain tasks.

A huge portion of our adult population uses over the counter sleep aids or prescription sleeping pills and they still cannot seem to get proper amount of sleep. Medications are often needed to help get a decent night of rest. However, sleep medications are intended to be used on an as needed basis because after time they will lose their effectiveness. In fact sleeping pills should be limited to less than 14 nights of consecutive use whenever possible.

Proper sleep hygiene is important to focus on. If you are having trouble sleeping, the first measure is to establish regular bed times and wake times, which simply trains the body it is time to sleep and then time to be awake. Caffeine and nicotine should both be avoided, at least four hours before bedtime. While many may think a drink before bed may be the start of a good night of sleep, alcohol has actually shown to cause early awakenings. Exercise needs to be at the right time. Exercise in the late afternoon can help deepen sleep, while exercise three hours before bedtime may interfere with sleep.

Stimulus control incorporates the idea sleep is a response to certain triggers. This involves going to sleep only when you are tired and only using the bedroom for sleep. Watching television, reading in bed or using your laptop should never be done in the bedroom. If you cannot sleep, get out of the bedroom and go to another dimly lit room to read. Once you are tired go back to bed. The light a laptop, ipad or TV gives off may have an arousing effect so they should not be used. As important as it is to go to bed on time, your alarm should also be set for the same time every morning, all in an effort to train the body to sleep consistently. Napping should also be avoided during the day, even if you are tired.

More complex sleep strategies include methods where you alter sleep and wake times to maximize the amount of time in bed actually sleeping. Relaxation strategies before bedtime have also shown to be effective. If your physician thinks it is necessary they may also send you for a sleep study to track your sleeping and breathing habits in bed.

If you are interested in finding a better sleep, tracking how you sleep is a very good start. The Dauphin Clinic Pharmacy is now providing ReadiBand Sleep Study Analysis. The ReadiBand sleep watch is worn for one week, day and night. Former NASA scientists designed the watch to track movements made by your arm. By tracking these movements the watch can tell when a person is awake or sleeping. The watch records when you go to bed, when you actually fall asleep, if you wake up during the night and when you wake up in the morning. After wearing the watch for seven days the data is uploaded to a computer and a print out with very detailed results is provided. While the watch cannot provide an actual insomnia diagnosis it can help your doctor determine whether a sleep study is needed. It can help determine if a consistent sleep time needs to be implemented, if medications or the time they are given need to be changed; or if other lifestyle modifications can be made. If you are interested in trying a sleep watch you can call or visit the Dauphin Clinic Pharmacy to book a one week sleep analysis.

As always if you have any questions or concerns about these products, ask your pharmacist.

The information in this article is intended as a helpful guide only. It is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional advice. If you have any questions about your medications and what is right for you see your doctor, pharmacist or other health care professional.

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