According to the American Sleep Association, 50 - 70 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders. There are numerous causes and types of sleep problems. Many solutions can be found through naturopathic methods such as the addition of natural products like melatonin and magnesium, as well as lifestyle changes such as stress reduction and exercise.
Many people that are sleep-deprived turn to medications such as the sleeping pill commonly known as “Ambien” to address their insomnia. There are inherent risks of this type of treatment. Dr. Katie Stage at the SCNM Medical Center outlines important information for those considering this type of treatment:
“Ambien is part of a class of sleep drugs that acts similarly to the benzodiazepine class of anti-anxiety medications (which includes Valium), but it binds more specifically to a receptor called GABA-BZ1. GABA is a neurotransmitter in the brain that causes a relaxing effect. It’s very common for users to report problems with sleepwalking associated with taking Ambien. The mechanism for sleepwalking isn't well understood but this effect been demonstrated repeatedly in clinical reports. The producers of Ambien state that sleepwalking is a rare result of taking the drug after performing clinical tests, however, Ambien clinical trials only lasted for 4-5 weeks; many people stay on this medication for years.”
Dr. Stage adds, “Often people don't realize that that their evening activities can negatively affect sleep. Naturopathic doctors address sleep in a holistic way that encompasses sleep hygiene and natural therapies such as dietary changes, herbs, and homeopathy. These therapies are non-addictive and don't cause harmful side effects. Frequently, the combination of lifestyle changes and natural therapies cause lasting changes that no longer require any medicinal treatment.” These lifestyle changes can include practicing mindfulness for stress reduction, adhering to a quality nutrition plan, and incorporating vigorous exercise into your daily routine.
Long time users of Ambien can be transitioned to a more natural approach, but this should be done slowly, and often with the addition of lifestyle changes during the process. Ambien (particularly if used long term) should not be stopped abruptly. Naturopathic physicians are trained to understand drug, nutrient, and herb interactions to ensure patient safety and positive outcomes,” concludes Dr. Stage.
Trying natural remedies for sleeplessness is a valuable first approach for getting back to a good night’s sleep. These methods have been proven over centuries to be just as effective as today’s sleeping pills with far fewer risks.
Check out the SCNM Medicinary for natural sleep aids!