Are the medications you are taking to help you sleep causing more harm than good?
I wrote an article a few months ago about how to improve one’s sleep at night. You can read that article by clicking here. In that article, I gave you some tips about how to get a better night’s sleep naturally. In this article I want to bring to your attention the link between many of the commonly used medications for insomnia, allergies, and depression and Alzheimer’s disease. “There is a strong and possibly irreversible link between Alzheimer’s disease and many commonly used medications for insomnia, allergies, and depression, according to a large recent JAMA Internal Medicine Study.”
What the study shows is that if you’ve spent the past three years taking Tylenol PM, Motrin PM, or Benadryl, then you have a 10% increase in suffering from Alzheimer’s, or dementia as you age. [Click To Tweet] “This risk association is significant, Malaz Boustani, M.D., M.P.H, told Drug Discovery and Development.” I’m sure everyone has seen the pattern for Alzheimer’s and dementia rising over the past 10 years, whether it’s been a friend or a loved one. When I was a kid you didn’t hear about these types of problems. All you have to do is look at admissions to nursing homes to see that there has been an increase in the number of Alzheimer’s patients and that these patients are younger and younger – some late 40’s, into 50’s and early 60’s. It might be partly due to genetics, but medication or outside chemicals also play a large role as the recent study demonstrated.
Everyone thinks if they sleep better they will be better. Under normal conditions, this is correct, but if you are taking one of these sleeping pills, you could be making your mind worse.
This is an interesting finding… “The study group showed for the first time a dose response; that is, That Alzheimer’s risk may grow with higher use. For instance, it found people taking a minimum of 25 mg of an anticholinergic called diphenhydramine (or one Advil PM, Tylenol PM, Motrin PM, or Benadryl pill) a day for three to 12 months increased their relative risk for dementia by 19 percent; one to three years, 23 percent; three to seven years, 54 percent compared to no use (if the statistically significant increase occurred among the latter group).” “Furthermore, this was the first study to find that dementias associated with anticholinergics may not be reversible, even years after drug use stops.”
So what is an anticholinergic drug. “An anticholinergic agent is a substance that blocks the neurotransmitter acetylcholine in the central and peripheral nervous system. Anticholinergics inhibit parasympathetic nerve impulses by selectively blocking the binding of the neurotransmitter acetycholine to its receptor in nerve cells.” What does this mean to you? Your thought processes are not as sharp and can diminish over time.
So what can a person do? First, read my earlier article. Second, better sleep comes naturally when your body’s chemistry is in balance and working as intended. Adrenal gland function is often overlooked. Your adrenal glands are responsible for your circadian rhythm, or your “sleep wake cycle”. [Click to Tweet This is our stress gland and can easily burn out. Why does it burn out? Stress in everyday lives is at a higher level today than the “good old days.” When testing the adrenal gland, it is important to do it in the correct way. In our office, we use a saliva test and collect specimens at very specific times to check the cortisol levels throughout the day (just testing it once during the day is insufficient). Healthy cortisol levels are high in the morning and low at night when you’re ready to go to bed. Many people have abnormal cortisol cycles that can be balanced naturally. Click here for a great article on adrenal health and the circadian rhythm.
You can sleep better, but don’t rely on a drug, even if it is over-the-counter. There are natural solutions to your sleep problem that will not expose you to substances that can cause more serious problems.
What do you do when you can’t sleep?