As a treatment for chronic insomnia, melatonin supplements disappoint. Internal secretion of melatonin, the hormone of darkness, begins to rise some two hours before you fall asleep. Adding to it with a melatonin supplement is often redundant.
But there’s increasing evidence that melatonin supplementation is effective for some sleep problems and may also help to treat and/or avert serious health conditions. Here’s a summary of the benefits.
Americans love over-the-counter (OTC) sleep aids. In 2015 we spent $427 million on products like ZzzQuil, Unisom, and Sominex.
These drugs are advertised “for relief of occasional sleeplessness.” Yet many Americans—particularly older adults—use OTC sleep aids several nights a week and may want to consider scaling back because of the side effects.
How do people with insomnia feel about sleeping pills?
Attitudes toward sleep medications differ from one American to the next, and between Americans and Australians, it turns out. Here’s a brief comparison that I hope will start a conversation.
Most—but not all—antidepressants tend to suppress and/or delay REM sleep (the stage associated with dreaming). This can be helpful for people with depression.
It’s not necessarily helpful for people with insomnia. In fact, REM sleep irregularities may be a causal factor in insomnia. So it pays to know a bit more about antidepressants if you’re taking them now or before you head down that path.
Occasionally I hear from long-term users of sleeping pills who suspect the pills are doing more harm than good. Their sleep is not very satisfying and they don’t feel rested during the day.
Here’s why you might want to explore the idea of discontinuing sleeping pills and what to expect if you decide to do it.
Blog posts I’ve written about sleeping pills get a lot of traffic. Among people with sleep problems, interest in drugs to relieve insomnia is high.
Pharmaceutical companies don’t seem to share this interest, though. A quick survey suggests that few companies are actively working on new drugs for the treatment of insomnia. Those with sleeping pills in the pipeline are developing drugs similar to suvorexant (Belsomra). Here’s more about this relatively new class of insomnia drugs.
Belsomra, Merck’s new sleeping pill, is now the hottest topic on this blog. Insomnia sufferers who write in with comments are wondering about dosage, effectiveness, side effects, and how it compares with other sleeping pills.
Reviews of Belsomra, or suvorexant, have been lukewarm so far. Since I haven’t tried it myself, I can’t weigh in based on personal experience. But my search for information turned up more than I shared in my blog last August. Here’s a bit of context and more details.