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Sleep: A Necessity, Not a Luxury
Date:6/8/2008

factor for developing major cardiovascular health effects."

Some people who have trouble sleeping will resort to mild sedatives like Ambien and Lunesta.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently asked the makers of these sedative-hypnotic drugs to strengthen their warning labels. This action followed reports of dangerous allergic reactions, as well as a host of bizarre behavioral side effects that include sleep-driving, making phone calls, and preparing and eating food or having sex while asleep.

Drake and Belenky both consider sleeping pills to be fine for the short term if taken properly.

"Sleeping pills are a temporary solution," Belenky said. "If you're upset about something or have situational insomnia, or you're trying to sleep at the wrong time of day because you've traveled across time zones, they are effective."

But, both doctors noted the pills will do nothing to help a chronic sleep problem. "They don't address the pathology of their sleeplessness," Drake said.

The U.S. National Institutes of Health offers these tips for getting a good night's sleep:

  • Stick to a regular sleep schedule.
  • Avoid exercising closer than five or six hours before bedtime.
  • Avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol before bed.
  • Avoid large meals and beverages late at night.
  • Don't take naps after 3 p.m.
  • Relax before bed, taking time to unwind with a hot bath, a good book or soothing music.
  • If you're still awake after more than 20 minutes in bed, get up and do something relaxing until you feel sleepy. Anxiety over not being able to sleep can make it harder to fall asleep.

More information

To learn more, visit the National Sleep Foundation.




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