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The Architecture of Medications and Sleep

Zack Self


The Architecture of Medications and Sleep

Can you get good sleep when taking drugs? Maybe not. Good sleep requires a seamless and sufficient progression of the known stages of sleep. Many drugs, and not just those prescribed, appear to influence one or more of those stages. The anti-sleep properties of stimulants such as caffeine and tobacco are well documented.  In fact, the question isn’t whether most drugs harm some aspect of sleep, the question is how much harm they cause to the architecture of sleep, either by disrupting or suppressing one of its aspects. It’s a question of managing the benefit of the drug with the benefit of sleep.

Most Americans are taking drugs. The majority for reasons described by their doctors. So how can people taking drugs still get a good night’s sleep?

Some medicines are known to limit good sleep patterns. Heart medicine can influence sleep architecture and may contribute to sleep insomnia for older adults. Drugs to help with hypertension, beta blockers, seem to contribute to insomnia and even sleep-disruptive hallucinations, episodes that occur while waking.

Drugs that act as stimulants will obviously interrupt sleep patterns. Alcohol, used to induce drowsiness and sleep, actually disrupts REM. It robs drinkers of much-needed quality rest, the opposite of their intention for using!

Prescribed “Sleep” Medicine

However, there are drugs used to positively influence sleep and address problems related to insomnia. Doctors have for many years prescribed Benzodiazepine drugs for anxiety disorders, for example. Newer benzodiazepine receptor agonists are more common today in prescription orders for insomnia. The purpose of the drug is to reduce sleep latency and the time needed for sleepwalking. They often reduce the amount of time spent in deep sleep (stage 3). Newer forms of these drugs address the issue of reduced deep stage 3 sleep their earlier iterations introduced. However, all of them reduce the time spent in Stage 1 sleep; they do not appear to affect the time spent in REM sleep.

Sleeping pills can be effective but remember they are treating the symptom, not the cause, of poor sleep. And your doctor may restrict their use while taking certain prescription drugs. Sleeping pills can be habit-forming. Typically, addressing the cause of poor sleep, such as consuming stimulants during the day and night-time hours, or too much alcohol serves people better than do sleeping pills.

Sleeping (well) while medicated

Experts suggest managing your schedule with good sleep in mind. Some drug prescriptions call for a flexible dosing schedule, instructing the patient to take “as needed” or at imprecise intervals such as “twice a day.” In such cases, patients may consider the anti-sleeping side effects and adjust their use accordingly. They make an informed decision to balance their medication needs to their need for good, healing rest. They consider such factors as the time for those effects to take place and adjust the dosing schedule to consumption immediately after they wake rather than immediately prior.

Of course, all drugs should be taken only on the advice of qualified medical practitioners and by carefully following reliable instructions. Pregnant women and children need to be especially cautious when taking any drug.

A good mattress can solve many sleeping problems. Avoid consuming tobacco, caffeine, and alcohol before bedtime and see if you don’t get much better rest. And of course, the technology we put on your bed can make a world of difference to your sleep.

Good sleep is great medicine

At OOLER, we want everybody to enjoy good health from getting the best sleep of their life. Our OOLER may not be able to overcome the anti-sleeping side effects of your prescription drugs, but it may help you get just that extra bit of quality rest your body deserves.  That’s why we put so much time and effort into designing and manufacturing the world’s best mattress pad for good sleepers.

The best sleep comes with an OOLER on your bed.

Footnote: Prescription medication should be taken only when authorized by a licensed physician and when under his or her care. The authorities have designated some drugs as prescription-only because they can be dangerous or prone to abuse. Over-the-counter medicines should be treated with respect, too. They can be powerful and cause side effects. Pay close attention to your body when you use a drug, particularly when starting a new one. Keep drugs in a specific area and away from pets, children, and mentally incompetent people who may be in the house. In the case of an overdose, call your local poison control center. In the US, you can call 1-800-222-1222.