How many times have we all heard the promise that sleeping pills are non-narcotic and non-addictive? While these pills may not be addictive, they often become habit-forming. Most people who take sleeping pills admit that their pill-induced sleep is not as satisfying as natural sleep, yet for many people under various circumstances, sleeping pills are the best temporary solution to sleeping difficulty. Here are some tactics that will help you reestablish your independence from sleeping pills.
- Start by avoiding sleeping pills on the weekend. That way, if you discover that a good night's sleep is elusive without the pills, your work performance won't suffer for it. And beyond that, sleeping difficulty won't stress you out as much on the weekend as it would during the work week. Which leads us to...
- Stress. It comes as no surprise to anyone that stress can interfere with our sleep. When facing the difficult challenge of getting rid of a sleeping pill habit, you must do what you can to reduce the stress you feel before bedtime.
Drifting into sleep is difficult when you feel like there are so many things to remember to do the next day. That's why making a list before bedtime can put your mind at ease. A little bedtime reading can also help to reduce stress by providing an escape from the daily grind. Meditation techniques can greatly reduce stress as well. Learn how to meditate and relieve stress here.
- Take a hot bath. Draw a hot bath and get into it a couple hours before bedtime. When you emerge form the bath, the cool-down of your body temperature signals to your body that it should conserve energy, leading you closer to sleep.
- Replace old habit with new ones. You developed a habit of taking sleeping pills to lead you to sleep. Now you must replace this habit with other healthier ones. Though warm milk contains only tiny amounts of relaxing tryptophan or melatonin, warm milk might lull you into a sleepier state for psychological reasons. A soothing, non-caffeinated cup of tea accompanying some bedtime reading might be just the ritual you need. Or how about getting lost in some relaxing music at a low volume? Turn the lights down low and try some meditation with the music with that music. Think back to your childhood - what do you associate with a cozy night's sleep? Once you have found even just one night of success after a certain ritual, do it each night.
- Don't eat heavy meals before bedtime. The digestion of these meals often disrupts sleep.
- Don't drink alcohol or caffeine in the evening. In truth, though many feel that alcohol helps them fall asleep, this substance actually interferes with a good night's sleep as well. As a stimulant, caffeine is not recommended for obvious reasons.
- Smoking. Because smokers often feel soothed after a cigarette, they might try to replace the sleeping pill ritual with a smoking ritual before bedtime. However, even if feels soothing to you during the day, nicotine is a stimulant as well and should be avoided at night.
- Exercise. Though we might think that a full evening workout will exhaust us and make it easier to fall asleep, exercising at night can have the opposite effect. Establish a workout time in the first half of the day, if possible.
- Circadian rhythm. Our bodies have a sort of sense of timing when it comes to sleep. Too much interference with the time we go to bed or wake up can disrupt that sense of timing, resulting in poorer sleep. Even if you're having a difficult time falling asleep without the sleeping pills, you shouldn't stay up all night or into the wee hours of the morning, if that's not your everyday custom. Try to go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning.
- Disruptive noise. Many of us live near a busy road or other outdoor sources of noises that distract us from sleep. We associate some natural sounds with relaxation. Running water and chirping crickets come to mind. You can buy whole CD's of these soothing sounds to help with sleep. If these don't help you ignore the outdoor din, try earplugs.
As is evidenced by the sheer number of sleeping pill commercials bombarding us on television, many people find themselves in situations where these medications are the best option to counteract temporary sleep difficulties. When it's time to stop taking the sleeping pills, you can achieve nighttime normalcy once more by patiently adopting new rituals, making your bedroom a sleep-friendly environment and reducing counterproductive nighttime behavior.