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.
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.
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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.
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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!