Ep. 016 – A Word of Caution About Sleep Aids and Medications

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Good morning and welcome to Episode 016 of the Train Your Brain Podcast with Dr. Michael Trayford. Every Monday we produce a 30-minute episode. Tuesday through Sunday we produce episodes with five-minute tips. Every episode of the Train Your Brain Podcast features a tip, so you can receive pointers 365 days a year that will help enhance the performance of your brain!

In Episode 016, Dr. Trayford teaches about sleep aids and how they work. He gives a word of caution about becoming too dependent on sleep medications. If you rely on sleep aids to get your rest, this show is a must-listen! Join us!

If you have any concerns regarding the information and applications discussed in this podcast, please consult your physician and a doctor who is experienced in functional neurology. Michael Trayford DC, DACNB is available for consultation by calling (828) 708-5274. Thanks for listening.

One of the common theme’s we’re talking about is sleep. With that we need to discuss sleep aids, and particularly in this segment we’re going to talk about medications. There are many factors about sleep we will address over time and sleep aid medications are very timely, because a lot of people are taking them.

I’m sure you know people that are taking them, most people walking through my doors are taking some type of sleep medication. There are a lot of them out there and they all have different actions and they’re taking them for different reasons.

The big issues are attaining sleep and maintaining sleep and sometimes a combination of both. So what happens is… You think about it. What’s one of the biggest issues that causes people not to be able to get to sleep.

Jason: Anxiety?

Absolutely! People have the wheels turning and they’re thinking about their to-do list for the next day, all that good stuff. We’ll have plenty of tips to talk about how to combat those challenges, but there is a whole class of medications that was originally designed to treat anxiety and these medications are called Benzodiazepines, Lorazepam being the most common one that people are taking now for sleep or for insomnia.

Because it essentially ramps down the mind a little bit and allows them to obtain sleep and most people in certain cases can get better sleep as a result of that. There are also the more common, long standing medications that were designed for sleep problems and Ambien is the big one that most people have heard about. And there are other ones that have the commercials that can help you remember what they are.

Jason: Like Lunesta with the butterfly?

Lunesta and the butterfly, yes! It’s amazing our associations and we’ll talk about those kinds of brain tips and hacks later on down the line as well and how to associate things so you can remember them. The drug companies do a fantastic job of getting people to remember what the drugs are… Maybe not what they’re used for, but what they are.

Jason: Well it’s just a very peaceful little green butterfly floating into your bedroom at night.

It’s amazing. It’s incredible marketing and you know I’ve talked about that I like to sit on the fence and see both sides of the equation.
There is a time and place for sleep medications, but by and large they are incredibly over used. So the point of this segment is to get people to get in the mindset of pulling away from sleep medications.

We had a woman not to long ago that had come in from Santa Fe, New Mexico to Asheville North Carolina here for a week of treatment because of the 30 year case of insomnia that she was dealing with. She was essentially sleeping about two to three hours a night for the last 30 years and you can imagine what that can do to one’s brain.

So with that she was taking the Lorazepam. They were insistent that it was an anxiety disorder that was causing her not to sleep. Well, by and large she was taking Ambien as well, as needed, but the Lorazepam was the main one.

So she had gone through five days of intensive Neurofeedback as well as some other modalities. Treatment intervention. We had looked at doing supplemental sleep aids, which we’ll talk at in future podcasts. More herbal based sleep aids.

The bottom line is that we don’t want to become reliant on anything other than our own brain and body to get to sleep so we wanted to have her have a conversation with health care provider that prescribed the mediations while we were working with her, so that she could essentially ah… Decrease of come off the medications all together.

And with that, in a five day period she gone through six hours of sleep with no medication, which was a pretty fantastic thing and I have to say for the duration that she had this condition it was a pretty extreme response. But the bottom line is that she changed her mindset. She started to see that she could in fact get to sleep on her own. That is incredibly powerful first step to be able to move into sleep on your own to take the dependence off of some pill. Whether it’s supplement or a medication.

The point is, people are really grossly over medicated when it comes to sleep aids and we need to look at alternatives dealing with things like our weight, our sleeping environment, stress and so many other things that will have a profound impact on sleep, even more so than the medications themselves.

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