Do sleep meds create sleep?
Today I want to talk to you about whether sleep medications create actual sleep. The question is very often "So when I take sleep medication, do I get the same quality of sleep as if I sleep naturally?" And here's the answer: “No, you don't.”
So what sleep medication does, is it basically sedates certain parts of your brain and you really have to do a deep dive into neurology here. Basically a lot of it has to do with histamines and different hormones and all of those have different reactions when we sleep in each of our different sleep phases.
Now what sleep medication does, it uses certain of those to give a couple more, or take a few, or block other ones in order to make your brain sleepy and sedated. That doesn't mean that it's the same kind of sleep. It can not be, because the natural balance, or the natural flow, is not the same. Which is also why some people taking sleep medication don't feel rested and which is also why some people do very strange and sometimes even very dangerous things when they are on sleep medication.
You have multiple stories of people who drove a car, had no idea because part of their brain was sedated. They were acting out their dreams and had no clue. A friend of mine picked up her cat, while staying at someone's place. She picked up the cat and the cat scratched her all over. It took her quite a while to realize that and she didn't even know she had picked up that terrifying cat. That is a funny story in a way, but it's also super scary because you don't know what else she would have done...
There are terrible accidents that happened when people were on sleep medication, because of sedation going wrong. Also there's the part of it being highly addictive. Ideally, sleep medication should never be prescribed for more than one to two weeks maximum. Now, having said that though, I think it also really depends on when you take them. From time to time I have people who are so stressed out that I don't mind them taking it for a few days, in order to take the edge off and to know “I can actually sleep!” If you are aware of this and, I really think it has a lot to do with your mindset as well, then it should be fine.
Sometimes I also have people who take half a milligram or something like that. I tell them not to stress out too much about it. I'm quite lenient on that side. When it's an emergency and I see that it works and that it's not too dangerous, it's fine.
However, people on a high dosage, it's not the way to go. In the end it doesn't let your brain perform what it's supposed to do. You will not get the same repairs. You will not get the same benefits that you get from sleep, because it's not the same process.
That's my take on this or what I've learned through my research and from my studies. I think there's a time and place for everything. Do be careful and don't have the illusion that it's the same thing, because it’s not.
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