Can a Sleep Aid Cure Insomnia?. An insomnia cure often comes in the form of a lifestyle change, such as a better diet or more regular exercise, and sleep education.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy, or CBT for insomnia (often called CBT-I) is a form of sleep hygiene training, or sleep education, that should be explored before turning to medication to cure insomnia.
The Cognitive behavioral therapy helps patients develop habits such as stimulus control, relaxation training, sleep restriction and cognitive control, which when practiced can help promote a healthy sleep.
For example, patients are taught that the bedroom is only for sleep and sex; and that all other activities such as watching TV or YouTube videos, checking Twitter or Facebook, and even reading a book should be avoided.
Patients are also taught to restrict the time spent trying to get to sleep by only going to bed when they feel very sleepy. If patients are not asleep after around 20 minutes they should get out of bed and do something relaxing – only returning to bed once they feel sleepy.
By learning about good sleeping habits and by practicing them on a regular basis, patients stand a good chance of getting a better night’s sleep. The only downside with CBT-I and lifestyle changes is that the results can often take a long time to become noticeable.
When patients are unable to make lifestyle changes due to an underlying medical condition, or if they are unable to attend CBT-I sleep hygiene training sessions due to work commitments, then sleep aid tablets can help patients effectively treat and cure insomnia in a short time.
About Sleep Aid Tablets
Over the years the go to sleep aid for patients has changed drastically and it is quite an interesting journey.
Chloral hydrate is classed as a hypnotic and was first synthesized by a German chemist in 1832, then given to patients as one of the first ever sleep aid tablets.
Chloral Hydrate Oral Solution, also known by the popular brand names Welldorm Elixir and Triclofos, are central nervous system depressants that act quickly, and make patients feel sleepy and fall asleep in around 30 minutes.
Triclofos and Welldorm tablets contain the active ingredient chloral betaine which the body converts to chloral hydrate. This medicine should be taken about 30 min before bed with water and should not be mixed with alcohol.
This powerful hypnotic medicine still has some clinical uses in the UK but it is not considered a first-choice sleep aid nowadays, due to the negative side effects such as drowsiness the next day, and a high chance of developing dependence on the medicine.
Bromide Sleep Aid Tablets
Bromides (sodium bromide [NaBr] and potassium bromide [KBr]), come from the anticonvulsant class of medication, and were first invented in 1857 by Charles Locock an English chemist and used to treat epilepsy.
In 1864 a German doctor called Otto Behrend discovered that potassium bromide was an effective sedative leading to its popular use as a sleep aid at the end of the nineteenth century.
In a book called Without a Paddle: Tales from the Tyne and Rivers Far Away, published by David Moffatt in 2016, it states that generations of British servicemen believed that bromide was added to tea and porridge in the NAFFI in order to damp down the troops’ sexual urges!
As the exact mechanism of action for this medication is still uncertain, and due to the high chance of patients developing dangerous side effects such as bromide toxicosis, this medication is very rarely prescribed by doctors or pharmacists to treat insomnia nowadays.
Barbiturate Sleep Aid Tablets
Barbiturates are a sedative drug that slows down the central nervous system (CNS) and are often called barbs and sleepers.
It is a synthetic medication, and it used to be widely prescribed by doctors and pharmacists as a sleep aid for the treatment of insomnia, as well as an anti-anxiety medication and a medication for depression.
Barbiturates were originally advertised as being completely safe for extended use and without any negative side effects or potential for abuse. This was unfortunately not the case as in 1966, barbiturates became a popular street drug and the UK seen 16 million barbiturate prescriptions diverted from the medical supply chain and sold on the black market.
When estimated to be the cause of 27,000 barbiturate overdoses in the UK between 1959 and 1974, doctors started to prescribe tranquilizers, or benzodiazepines, as a sleep aid instead.
Benzodiazepine Sleep Aid Tablets
Benzodiazepines, that remain widely used today, were first discovered accidently by Leo Sternbach, an Austrian chemist in 1955, and then developed by the Swiss pharmaceutical company Hoffmann-La Roche, into the well-known diazepam (Valium) in 1963.
“Benzos”, are much safer and less addictive than barbiturates. Benzodiazepines such as diazepam (Valium) have sedative, hypnotic, anxiolytic, anticonvulsant, and muscle relaxant properties making them useful for doctors treating patients with anxiety, insomnia, muscle spasms and even seizures.
While benzodiazepines provide patients with a sedative, calming effect that makes them feel sleepy and fall asleep, they can be highly addictive due to their habit-forming chemical properties.
Naturally, patients will develop a tolerance for benzodiazepines, and as such, over time patients will require a higher dose of benzodiazepine medication to experience the same calming effects.
The medical term to describe the abuse of benzodiazepines is called ‘hypnotic, sedative, or anxiolytic use disorder’. Patients are advised to follow the usage and dosage instructions on the patient information leaflet carefully to lessen the chances of experiencing the physical and psychological symptoms of benzodiazepine abuse.