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Sleeplessness or disturbed sleep can effect anyone young or old at any time. Doctors recommend a number of steps to take before the taking of tablets:
Things to avoid:
Avoid caffeine, alcohol and nicotine before bedtime.
Avoid a heavy meal too near bedtime.
Avoid daytime naps.
Things to try:
Try exercising a little more, but not too close to bedtime.
Make sure your bedroom is not too hot.
Have a warm bath or drink (caffeine-free) before bed.
If you do wake in the middle of the night. Don't brood in bed, get up and make yourself a warm drink such as a herbal tea, read a book or watch some TV until you start to feel sleepy again.
If you would like to learn more about coping with sleeplessness visit The Sleep Council for more advice.
Symptoms of insomnia
Difficulty falling to sleep, known as sleep onset insomnia.
Frequent waking during the night.
Waking up in the early hours and not being able to get back to sleep.
Waking up the next morning and feeling tired. This is often accompanied by a difficulty concentrating and increased irritability.
Common triggers for insomnia
Prescribed Drugs e.g. beta-blockers, steroids, diuretics and cold remedies containing pseudoephedrine.
Stimulants: e.g. alcohol, nicotine and caffeine.
Emotional Upset and Anxiety e.g. bereavement, money worries, exam nerves, family problems.
Illness or Change in Health e.g. coughs, colds, menopause and pregnancy.
Sleep Apnoea a condition causing a person to wake up in order to breathe properly. This is as a result of the narrowing of the large airways whilst asleep. More common in overweight men and often associated with snorers. Although not all snorers will be suffering with Sleep Apnoea!
Who may need referral to a Medical Practitioner?
For some patients suffering with insomnia it may be inappropriate or unsafe for them to take some sleeping tablets or preparations. They would need to check with the pharmacist and in some cases their GP before taking the sedating medication. These people are:
Anyone already taking prescribed medication.
Pregnant or breastfeeding women.
Children under 16 years or the elderly. N.B. some herbal preparations are safe - check the product.
When purchasing sedating antihistamines from Express Chemist it is important that you fill out the Pharmacy Questions as fully as you can, so the pharmacist can check that your chosen sleeping pills are safe for you to use.
Herbal treatments for insomnia
Herbal preparations are now becoming more popular for occasional sleeplessness. They are useful as they do not make you feel sleepy the morning after taking them. Valerian and are commonly found in many preparations such as Kalms Sleep and Nytol Herbal tablets. If you prefer to take drops or sip a drink then A. Vogel Valerian and Hops Complex (suitable for longterm use) and Rescue Remedy Night Drops or Spray are ones to try. Herbal tablets and liquids can provide an alternative solution for bouts of sleeplessness before resorting to antihistamines. They are usually safe for long term use. Some preparations are also suitable for children who find it hard to fall asleep.
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