Insomnia is the name given to an inability to get to sleep or stay asleep long enough to feel refreshed upon waking up. There are a number of conditions that can cause insomnia including stress, depression, anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder as well as underlying physical health conditions. Insomnia is thought to affect one in three individuals in the UK and is more prominent in the aging population.
According to a new report conducted by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, individuals who self medicate their insomnia could be putting themselves at serious risk of long term health problems. The survey included 2,077 people, 30 percent of these reported that they had been taking sleeping pills for over a month without seeking medical advice and a further 14 percent of individuals had been self medicating for over six months.
The concern is that insomnia medication could be covering up underlying conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, schizophrenia and other mental illnesses which are not being addressed by a medical professional. Additionally, self-medicating could lead to problems with drug addiction or dependence as doses are not being monitored by doctors.
People suffering from insomnia should seek medical advice to rule out any underlying health conditions. There are natural ways of aiding sleep including mindfulness, gentle exercise such as yoga or tai chi, essential oils such as lavender oil and dietary changes such as reducing caffeine intake and replacing with chamomile tea to promote sleep.