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Answer to your Health Question

Title: Mild sleeping pill I can use to help me sleep better.

Question (posted on September 28, 2010) :

I go to bed about 11:00pm at night but I toss & turn throughout the night.

Is there a mild sleeping pill I can use to help me sleep better?

I work & go to classes from 5:00 am in the morning to 9:00pm at night



Dear Ashantie,

Taken properly, sleeping pills give enormous benefit to people suffering from an inability to get restful sleep.

At the same time, the rise in the use of sleep medication has been accompanied by reports of abuse and unpleasant side effects.

Many of the most popular over-the-counter sleep aids contain diphenhydramine:

- Excedrin PM
- Nytol
- Tylenol PM

Diphenhydramine helps those with mild, infrequent insomnia.

Diphenhydramine can also cause unwanted sleepiness in the morning.

Other side effects of diphenhydramine include:

- Difficulty urinating
- Confusion or delirium

These occur most in people over 65, who should avoid taking diphenhydramine.

Younger people shouldn't take diphenhydramine for more than two weeks, because tolerance can develop.

Selective Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) medications are among the newest sleep medicines and include:

<*>Ambien (zolpidem tartrate)
<*> Ambien CR (zolpidem tartrate extended release)
<*> Lunesta (eszopiclone)
<*> Sonata (zaleplon)

Selective GABA medicines do have potential side effects, which are usually mild and include:

" Memory disturbances
" Behavior changes prior to sleep
" Hallucinations

Benzodiazepines are older medicines that effectively help people get to sleep, and were previously the most commonly used sleep medicines. Drugs in the benzodiazepine class include:

<*> Ativan (lorazepam)
<*> Halcion (triazolam)
<*> Restoril (temazepam)
<*> Valium (diazepam)
<*>Xanax (alprazolam)

Benzodiazepines have potential side effects, which include:

=Reduced anxiety
=Muscle relaxation
=Poor memory of some events while taking the drug

According to the National Sleep Foundation, good sleep habits should include:

=No caffeine later in the day. Avoid caffeine from four or five hours prior to going to bed. And that includes not just the coffee but the chocolate and the colas, too.
=Avoid nicotine or alcohol two to three hours before bedtime.
=Use your bedroom only for sleeping and sex.
=Maintain a regular sleep-wake schedule on all days, including weekends.
=Exercise regularly but complete it several hours before bedtime.
=Finish eating at least 2-3 hours before bedtime
=Create a restful sleep environment by reducing noise, light, and temperature extremes with ear plugs, window blinds, an electric blanket, or air conditioner.

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