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Sleep aids and natural remedies can help

Seroquel (quetiapine), an atypical antipsychotic, is sometimes prescribed as a sleep aid because it can be sedative.

Non-prescription sleep aids
Non-prescription, “over-the-counter” (OTC) sleep aids can help, but may be less effective than prescription drugs. They may have been subjected to less rigorous testing. Many of these, such as “PM” pain relievers, include antihistamines, which are designed to block chemicals released during a cold or allergy attack but can also have a sedating effect.

Several over-the-counter pain remedies, like Excedrin and Tylenol, come in a “PM” version free of caffeine but with an antihistamine that makes people sleepy.

Natural Remedies

Natural insomnia remedies used by some to promote sleep include:

  • Valerian (a root that may be steeped in hot water for tea)
  • Hops (especially in combination with valerian.)
  • Melatonin (an artificial or animal form of a substance produced by humans that is linked to sleep)
  • Lavender water sprinkled or sprayed on bedding can make you sleepy, and so can scents of vanilla and green apple.
  • Essential oils of Ylang ylang, chamomile, peppermint, eucalyptus, lemongrass and rose. To get the full effect, be sure to use true essential oils, which are 100% pure.

Herbal products and nutritional supplements are not required to undergo the same rigorous testing as drugs do in order to meet government standards. Their long-term impact, side effects and possible interactions with other drugs or medical conditions are often not known. Discuss their use with your doctor.

Light therapy
Recent research has found that sleep may be improved by using a pair of blue-blocking lenses to simulate darkness several hours before one wishes to fall asleep. This may allow the biological clock to re-organize itself and synchronize around a more regular schedule. You can read about this research in Bipolar disorder – Light and darkness
by Jim Phelps, MD, Psycheducation.

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