Expert provides recommendations for sleeping pill alternatives

DENVER -- The Centers for Disease Control reports one in three adults don’t get enough sleep.

More than 500,000 people take prescription drugs like Ambien or Lunesta to get the sleep they need,  but the Food and Drug Administration is now requiring labels to warn patients about the possibility of dangerous side effects.

Robert Turner, clinical supervisor of Rose Medical Center’s Sleep Center said users of the medications may not know all of its effects.

“With Ambien, people can do things while they’re asleep and be unaware of it," he said.

Turner advises that anyone considering treatment for a sleep abnormality disclose all health information with their doctor so he or she can make the best decision for their health.

"(Sleep aids) have some interactions with other medications," Turner said.

He added that powerful sleep aids are designed for short-term use during times of depression, stress or anxiety.

“Your daughter is getting married and you’re worried about the wedding," Turner provided as an example.

Turner recommends anyone struggling to fall asleep on a regular basis first try cutting back on caffeine.

"There are people who are using caffeine at dinner time -- having a cup of coffee at dinner -- then wondering why they can’t get to sleep," he said.

Supplements like melatonin, if approved by a doctor, can help as well. Get plenty of exercise, but not within three hours of your bedtime, and stick to a regular sleep schedule, which means not sleeping in late on the weekends.

Doctors say we all should be getting between seven and nine hours of sleep each night.  Not doing so may eventually lead to diabetes, heart disease, stroke and other health problems.

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