Medications for Sleep

Melatonin:

Melatonin can be taken as a supplement in addition to what the brain makes naturally. It is sold as a supplement in many countries such as Canada and the US but currently requires a doctor’s prescription in the UK. I normally prescribe it alongside other sleep supplements and herbals and will often use a slow release form where available, to avoid wake-ups if the issue is more staying asleep or fragmented sleep vs if the issue is only getting to sleep initially, the quick dissolve forom works well. 3mg is generally a good starting dose. Melatonin taken on it’s own is not always as effective for most people, so often it is combined with sleep botanicals or supplements, unless it’s being used to reset after flying across time zones for jetlag.

OTC drugs

OTC drugs such as some antihistamines are often used as a sleep aid but they should not be used for this purpose generally long-term as they can disrupt healthy sleep architecture and may have memory impairment effects if used frequently as a long term sleep aid.

Prescription Sleeping Pills

Your doctor may also prescribe prescription sleeping drugs, normally only for a short time. They can have a high risk of side effects and possible detrimental longer term effects on the brain if used regularly for a long time. However, in some cases they may be needed and some drugs are safer than others and more appropriate for different types of sleep issues and other related issues like chronic fatigue and pain. For example, low dose trazodone in cases of severe chronic fatigue syndrome can help reset sleep, often combined with sleep herbals and supplements and then gradually decreased once sleep has been on track for normally a period of 3 months. Low dose naltrexone used in conditions such as fibromyalgia, may also help improve sleep.

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