SAN ANTONIO – If you toss and turn and have trouble getting to sleep, there are options beyond medications to help ease your insomnia.
Not sleeping enough isn’t just annoying, it can contribute to health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure and depression.
For short-term sleep problems, your healthcare provider may suggest a drug or supplement.
If your doctor prescribes sleep drugs, Consumer Reports found they may only increase your sleep by about 20 to 30 minutes.
“All prescription sleep meds come with risks, including being drowsy the next day,” said Consumer Reports’ Lauren Friedman. “Some have also been linked to sleepwalking and other odd nighttime behaviors. So, you should take the lowest dose for the shortest time possible.”
Over-the-counter sleep drugs are another option. They can also cause drowsiness the next day and may be habit-forming when taken long term.
If sleeping pills worry you, melatonin is an alternative. It’s a popular supplement, but Consumer Reports says there is little evidence that it works, unless you have jet lag.
An increasingly popular choice is CBD, which has been shown to have mild side effects and is not addictive. But some evidence suggests that its effect on sleep might lessen with extended use.
If you suffer from chronic sleep problems, Consumer Reports suggests cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia.
“With CBT-I, you work with a therapist to help fix bad habits, like using your smartphone too close before bedtime," Friedman said. “A therapist can also give you tips to help improve your sleeping environment, like keeping your room dark and cool enough.”