Sleeping Pills That Don’t Let You Sleep

The Health Journal column in today’s Wall Street Journal discusses the dangers of taking sleeping pills, and the rise in somnambulism that is more likely to occur taking nonbenzodiazepines (NBZs). Ambien is the leading brand-name NBZ; others are Lunesta and Sonata.

Last year the FDA required that “sedative-hypnotic” drugs carry strong warnings, following reported cases of people sleep walking, eating, driving, and doing chores. The Journal reports a WHO study showing people have experienced these effects in 24 countries. In that study, Halcion (banned in some countries such as the UK), caused the highest instance of sleep actions amongst an older class of sleeping drugs known as benzodiazepines (BZs). Ambien showed the highest sleep actions of the NBZs. Despite the side effects, the Journal cites IMS Health statistics showing US sleep aid prescriptions grew 10% last year, partly attributed to generic Ambien.

From a planetary perspective, drugs in general come under the domain of Neptune. This planetary energy relates to the art of illusion and the desire to escape. Neptune was discovered* at the time anesthesia was first used to help a patient escape the pain of having his tooth extracted. Neptune and its sign Pisces rule the unconscious, the world we escape to each night for a few hours of necessary respite and rejuvenation.

Neptune also rules addictions: escape mechanisms we think we need to cope with daily living. Even after any medical condition or other medication/supplement interaction has been ruled out as being the cause of trouble sleeping, popping a pill is viewed as superior to exploring the cause of sleep difficulties. The transit of Uranus in Pisces since 2003 has resulted in the rise of erratic behavior reported from sleeping pills. A series of oppositions between Uranus and Saturn in Virgo later this year through mid 2010 should bring greater government (Saturn) restrictions or bans on healthcare (Virgo) that has many side effects but little medical benefit. The US in particular will experience radical change in all aspects of healthcare.

Taking a sleeping pill becomes an addictive cycle of fear as the Journal describes people taking a sleeping pill too far ahead of going to bed so they don’t spend a single second lying awake. The overuse of medication in today’s society is one of my pet peeves. I’m not a medical professional, but I offer these tips to people having trouble sleeping in the hope that they never start these pills, or will discuss stopping the sleeping pill habit with their doctor.

Make your bedroom a sleep sanctuary: If you don’t find the colors and contents of your bedroom to be relaxing, how do you expect to get a good night’s sleep? Eliminate excess clutter, and remove the TV, computer, exercise equipment – anything that conveys the subliminal message of activity. If you live in a one room apartment, drape covers over these items before bedtime. Make sure the room is dark enough for sleeping.

Preparing for sleep: Vigorous exercise should be done several hours before sleeping, but being outdoors and taking a walk in the evening is usually conducive for sleep. Eating and drinking caffeinated beverages too close to bedtime should be avoided. Establish a brief transition period before bedtime to create the setting for sleeping. (Especially important if you sleep in your living area.) Tune out the world physically and mentally. Tell yourself that anything bothering you can be continued tomorrow morning. Playing soothing music or sounds on a stereo with a sleep timer might be helpful.

Keep a schedule/observe yourself: It’s important to awaken and go to sleep around the same time each day (even on weekends). Write down each time you experience trouble sleeping what you did, ate, and how you felt that day. Difficulties could also coincide with the Moon’s phases and other cycles.

Change your mindset: Not every person needs eight hours sleep – some need more, some need less. Know what works best for you rather than media touted statistics from some sleep organization that’s probably pharma financed. Sleep requirements change during different phases of our life.

I have experienced periods where I’m wide awake after a few hours of sleep. Rather than be upset about it, I’ve used these times to read, meditate, or sit in the dark with the shade up staring at the stars. The quiet hours before dawn have a special energy that is inspiring – far more appealing than the side effects and expense of pills.

*Neptune discovered: September 23, 1846 11:55 CET Berlin, Germany.

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