Sleeping tablets: How do they affect your sleep?

 

 

Do you sleep well?? If you do, you are lucky!

 

Sleep disturbances weaken your immune system! They increase your risk of cancer, predict the development of Alzheimer’s disease and disrupt blood sugar levels so much that you show signs of being pre-diabetic.

 

Sleep disruption contributes to all major psychiatric disorders, including depression, anxiety and suicidality.

 

But what happens if you can’t sleep? Will a sleeping tablet help you?

 

Most sleeping tablets are bad for sleep!

They help you fall asleep, but do not allow you to sleep through a natural cycle. They rob you of many benefits of sleep.

Via Flickr
Image Via Flickr

 

Sleeping medications obliterate so many types of brain activity during sleep that are essential for brain health. Adding to this, is several unwanted side effects; feeling groggy the next day, forgetful and confused.

 

Sleeping tablets and emotion

Have you ever heard of REM sleep? Well, you wouldn’t have it, if you regularly take sleeping tablets.

 

REM sleep is essential for regulating emotion and enhancing creativity. REM sleep is the stage where you experience your most vivid and bazaar dreams with emotionally rich narratives.

'There would be no chance to get to know death at all...

Image Via Flickr

The brain regions that generate and process emotions are 30% more active during REM sleep than during wake. This regional activation during sleep is thought to improve your mental health.

 

Given that sleeping tablets reduce REM sleep, they may impair your ability to regulate emotion.

 

People suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) cannot regulate fear well. This is why so many soldiers cannot be around fireworks, even when they are in a safe place. People suffering from the disorder also have sleeping difficulties.

 

trauma treatment ptsd treatment

Image via Flickr

 

In this case, sleeping tablets have the potential to make everything worse, and people with PTSD should not take sleeping tablets. It may make their disorder worse!

 

Sleeping tablets do not allow you the beneficial effects of REM sleep!

 

But that is not all!

 

Sleeping tablets also reduce the size of brain waves that are known to improve our memory and flush out toxins.

 

When we fall into deep sleep, our brain’s signalling cells all pulse together in perfect synchrony creating large brain waves.

 

Larger brainwaves during sleep is predictive of memory enhancement. Sleeping tablets that reduce brain waves, have the potential to reduce the memory enhancement during sleep.

 

These large brain waves also flush out the brain’s toxins, such as beta amyloids. When beta amyloids build up in the brain, they clump together to form plaques. The accumulation of plaques lead to cell death in the brain which is thought to be the cause of Alzheimer’s disease.

 

If sleeping tablets impair these slow waves, they could be contributing to Alzheimer’s disease!

 

So, what can we do instead?

There are so many society engineered forces that are responsible for insomnia. Remove them from your life!

 

We are spending increased time spent in front of electronic devices and have regularized temperature in our houses; affecting our internal body clock’s and its ability to regulate the day night cycle.

 

Caffeine inhibits our drive to sleep. It affects our ability to sleep at night, and when its effects wear off, we are sleep deprived during the day. We create this cycle where we keep on self-medicating to help us stay awake and never benefit from a good night sleep.

 

Alcohol works like most sleeping tablets. It is a sedative and does not allow us to have a natural night sleep.

 

If you are having difficulties sleeping, try to remove these things from your life for a few weeks and see if it helps.

 

All animals sleep, and our sleep has evolved for thousands of years to optimise its role in regulating emotion, brain health, memory and many other things. Sleeping tablets mess with that! We shouldn’t use them unless it is absolutely necessary!

 

If you want to find out more, I’ve started reading a book by my favourite sleep scientist. It explains everything in a lot more detail!


5 Responses to “Sleeping tablets: How do they affect your sleep?”

  1. mbrian says:

    Thanks iwallace!

    Melatonin is something that works in a different way to other sleeping tablets, so it wouldn’t affect the amount of REM sleep and NREM sleep you have.

    Melatonin helps to set your body clock. At night time, generally our eyes detect darkness. This causes us to produce melatonin to send a signal to the brain to say “it is bed time!”. Nowadays, more people look at computer screens and TV for longer periods. The light stops you from producing melatonin, which upsets your body clock. If you take melatonin, it helps to reset your body clock, so that you know it is bed time.

    Does that make sense?

    It works mainly on people who have difficulty getting to sleep, and not people who have difficulty maintaining sleep.

    Most sleeping tablets work by making the brain more sensitive to a chemical called GABA that inhibits brain activity. This makes it harder to get into REM sleep.

  2. Maddison Brian says:

    Thanks iwallace!

    Melatonin is something that works in a different way to other sleeping tablets, so it wouldn’t affect the amount of REM sleep and NREM sleep you have.

    We have two different sleep systems. One is called sleep pressure; that is, you are going to be more tired if you have been awake for a long time. The other is your body clock or circadian rhythm which tells you to go to bed a night (this is the one that melatonin works on).

    Melatonin helps to set your body clock. At night time, generally our eyes detect no light, this causes us to produce melatonin to send a signal to the brain to say “it is bed time!”. Nowadays, more people look at computer screens and TV for longer periods. The light stops you from producing melatonin, which upsets your body clock. If you take melatonin, it helps to reset your body clock, so that you know it is bed time.

    Does that make sense?

    It works mainly on people who have difficulty getting to sleep, and not people who have difficulty maintaining sleep.

  3. mbrian says:

    Thanks Yang!! Something that I didn’t mention in my post is that there is a new sleeping tablet that came out on the market last year. This one actually increases REM sleep (the phase of sleep where you experience your most vivid dreams). It could be a good alternative to current sleeping tablets, but there are still a few problems with it. I think I will write a blog post about in my next blog post. Stay tuned!

  4. iwallace says:

    I’ve heard of REM before, but never realised what it meant! It makes so much sense now that when we are tired we become so easily agitated!

    Have you heard of many natural alternatives to sleeping tablets? I have taken melatonin to sleep (prescribed by a GP), and I’ve heard it doesn’t have the harmful effects associated with sleeping tablets.

  5. yang says:

    A good one!
    So disappointing to know that sleep tablets have so many bad effects to our health, as I thought help insomnia to fall asleep can always be good. Thanks for writing this and providing some suggestions as well.