Peter Hibberd, M.D., is a doctor whose advice is based on more than 28 years of hospital outpatient and inpatient experience. He is an experienced emergency medicine physician, surgeon, and consultant. Dr. Hibberd is certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine. He is also a fellow and active member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, an active member of the American College of Emergency Physicians, and a member and fellow of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Hibberd has earned numerous national and international professional certifications, memberships, and awards.
Tags: sleeping | pills | harm | risk

Will Sleeping Pills Harm My Health?

By    |   Thursday, 05 September 2013 04:03 PM

Question: I use a prescribed sleeping pill (clonazepam) to help me get to sleep because of my diabetic neuropathy. Should I try to switch to something natural to replace this sleeping pill?

Dr. Hibberd's answer:
Switch! Clonazepam (klonopin) is a valium-like medication that is not usually used as a sleep agent, but like many medications it causes drowsiness as a side effect. Clonazepam is Food and Drug Administration-approved for seizure management and for panic disorder. But it has been associated with an increased risk of suicide and suicidal thoughts.
Natural remedies are always favored for sleep, and it is good you are prepared to replace this medication. Some obtain relief with melatonin, which seems most suitable to those with jet lag. Melatonin levels taper down as we age, and some seem more responsive than others to this agent.

In adults, the doses vary from 0.2 to 20 miligrams, and should be guided by your doctor. It is not intended for children or for pregnant or lactating women. Do not use any version of this except for manmade or synthetic products. The extracts from sources such as ground up cow pineal glands are rarely used because of concerns they may spread disease.
So, melatonin is worth a try, and there is also a prescription version of melatonin that may meet your needs more effectively than oral melatonin.
Other remedies that are tried and true include improving your sleep hygiene — such as going to bed and rising at the same time every day and sleeping in a very dark room — and avoiding food or drinks (particularly alcohol or caffeinated beverages) before bed.
Prescription hypnotic agents are available specifically for sleep, and are available by only prescription from your doctor. You can try using one of these hypnotics as a bridge to help establish a regular sleep schedule, but avoid using them long term. Try to stick to FDA-approved medications for your own safety. You pay a premium for this safety information and approval, so you  may as well use it to your advantage.

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Natural remedies are always the best options for sleep.
Thursday, 05 September 2013 04:03 PM
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