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5 Reasons To Avoid Sleeping Pills When You Can’t Sleep

Insomnia recovery is an inside job.

Probably not what you wanted to hear but it’s true.

“Can’t I just take a pill instead?”

“What about a supplement? The bottle says it’s all natural…”

I saw you try to sneak that second one by me, but I’m onto you sister 😉 I know all the insomniac tricks in the book.

Trust me – I’ve asked myself those same questions. But being on the other side of insomnia now, I know the answer is an emphatic “NO”. And if you dig deep, that’s what you want it to be too or you wouldn’t be reading this post, right?

Oh, your brain will still tell you it can find an easier solution! That’s what human brains do. They evolved to expend the least amount of energy, avoid danger and pursue pleasure at all costs.

The problem is, society changed faster than your brain could catch up. So, your brain looks for quick fixes to conserve energy. It wants a fast answer to keep you safe without too much effort. And if you’re not onto your brain’s silly antics, you can get caught up in solutions that seem simple and fast, but might not give you the long term results you want.

Sleep is a natural, biological process. And your brain knows exactly how to do it. But if you let your brain decide on the quick fix, you train it to find ways around that deep knowing without even realizing it.

There’s no substitute for rewiring your brain for sleep – for re-learning all the things your brain already knew before you piled on new strategies, tactics, tips and hacks to your bedtime routine. I won’t lie – this takes work and consistency. But it’s so worth it to do this for and with yourself.

Think of it this way: if changing your mattress and pillow, making your room darker, not looking at blue light screens before bed, and having a really specific bedtime routine every night really helped you sleep better, you wouldn’t be here reading this, right?

That advice has been available to you, for free, for a really long time. And I bet you’ve tried all of the tips. Most women who struggle with insomnia tell me, “I’ve literally tried everything!!”

Which doesn’t mean the advice is bad, it’s just not helpful for women with chronic insomnia. Sleep hygiene tools and tips help support good sleep but they can’t fix poor sleep on their own.

Marketing messages and the primitive, reactive part of your brain condition you to look outside yourself for quick solutions to most problems. Sleep is no different. It’s easier to take drugs, supplements, change things in your environment, or blame others than it is to look inside yourself – at your stressful thoughts, habits and beliefs and decide that’s the place to start.

External solutions prove to your brain that you can’t do it. That you’re not in control, and you need something outside you to fix it. Like a bandaid instead of internal healing.

5 Reasons women with insomnia should avoid sleeping pills

My top 5 reasons sleeping pills aren't the answer for most women*:

  1. They treat the symptom but they don’t solve the problem which is your sleep-related thoughts and habits,
  2. They prevent quality sleep, reducing your deep and REM sleep (the most important sleep stages),
  3. Side effects (yes, even the supplements!) that can feel worse, and even more tiring, than insomnia itself. These include daytime hangover effects, physical and psychological dependence, and an amnesic effect that makes it hard for you to remember if you slept or not, and
  4. Even if they help, they only work when you take them. None of them solve the stress, anxiety or worry that’s keeping you awake in the first place, and
  5. Related to #3, long-term use of sleeping pills is likely more harmful to your health than not sleeping in the first place. None of them were designed for long term use, specifically not in the dosages most women take.

Your brain already knows how to sleep

Taking sleep medications is like “solving” one problem by adding a new one. Now you still can’t sleep well AND need help weaning off the sleep meds that you believe is responsible for the only sleep you do get.

Sleep is a skill your brain already has.

It just forgot how for a while, but you can re-learn it.

*This is not intended to replace medical advice or convince you to stop taking medications prescribed for any reason by your doctor. Always check with your doctor before taking any medication or supplement for sleep.

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