Sleep disorders are categorised as any condition that affects the quality of sleep. And there are a lot of them. In fact, the American Sleep Disorders Association recognises over 100 distinct sleep disorders. Despite their name, these conditions don’t only affect the quality of night time rest; the inability to sleep can have a significant impact on many aspects of normal day-to-day functioning. A lack of sleep can make it difficult to focus at work for example, to concentrate on tasks, to remain alert and engaged, to drive safely, and to carry out daily tasks such as doing the grocery shop.
Sleep disorders are often long term conditions, and are categorised differently to temporary, short term sleeping problems (which tend to be due to things like cold, flu, or jet lag).
Some of the more common sleep disorders include:
- Insomnia, Restless legs syndrome, Sleep apnea, Narcolepsy, REM sleep, behaviour disorder, Excessive daytime sleepiness & Parasomnia
Treating Sleep Disorders
For those struggling to sleep, sleep aid tablets can help to relax the mind and body, and provide an almost sedative-like affect that makes it easier to fall asleep and then to stay asleep. For some people, sleep aids are essential for optimal day-to-day functioning and the only way that they can relax the mind and body enough to drift off.
There are a number of prescription and over the counter sleeping tablets available to purchase from online pharmacies. However, each type of sleep aid works in a different way, so it’s important to understand what each active ingredient does, what sorts of problems they target, and how they can help to facilitate a good night’s sleep if you’re struggling to drop off.
- Benzodiazepine derivatives
Benzodiazepines, or ‘Benzos’ as they are sometimes known, are typically not recommended to be used as sleep aids. However, there are a few Benzo derivatives and drugs that behave in similar ways to Benzos that may help to facilitate sleep. These sleeping tablets work by binding to the body’s GABA neurotransmitter, instructing the brain to slow down and therefore preventing the over activity that prevents the mind from shutting off when it’s time to go to sleep.
Common Benzodiazepine-related sleep aids include:
- Etizolam (sold under brand names Etilaam, Etizest, and Etizex)
- Eszopiclone (sold under brand name Hypnite)
- Zopiclone (sold under brand name Zopicon)
- Anti-Anxiety medications
Medicines used to treat anxiety and depressive disorders may be a beneficial sleep aid if worry, concern, or stress is the cause of the inability to sleep. Antidepressants all work in different ways, but ultimately work to achieve the same outcome: a greater feeling of calm and tranquility, and a shift from focusing exclusively on potential negatives.
Common anti-anxiety medications that may be used as sleep aids include:
- Buspirone (sold under brand name Buspin)
- Trazodone (a non-SSRI antidepressant)
- Promethazine (an antipsychotic medicine causing drowsiness)
- Other medications
There are a number of other types of sleep aid that may help depending on the cause of the sleep disorder. For sleep disrupted by pain, for example, Tapentadol is an opioid based analgesic that can reduce feelings of pain enough to allow the body to rest.
For sleep disorders that have no clear cut cause, melatonin could be an effective solution. Melatonin tablets replicate the natural melatonin found in the body; a hormone that tells the brain to be alert in light environments, and rest in dark environments. In select countries, melatonin is prescription only, but in many it is available over the counter as a dietary supplement from pharmacies and health stores.
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