There is a myriad of drugs that can affect our sleep, some of which include beta-blockers (prescribed for high blood pressure), selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRI’s (a type of antidepressant) and, ironically, even some which are designed to enhance sleep quality such as benzodiazepines.
Given shift workers endure bouts of restricted and fragmented sleep depending on their shift rotations, minimizing exposure to anything which can further exacerbate poor sleep needs to be a priority.
I would recommend writing down every drug and supplement that you are taking and asking your health care practitioner if any could be interfering with your sleep.
Then look at reverse-engineering things by asking if any lifestyle modification strategies could be implemented to address some of the reasons why you’re taking the medications.
Do you have high blood pressure? If so, then quit smoking because nicotine is a stimulant that causes the blood vessels to restrict leading to elevated blood pressure.
Do you suffer from depression? If so, work on ways to incorporate more movement as exercise is the most underutilized antidepressant on earth! Even the simple act of walking increases exhalations and inhalations which causes the body to release endorphins that trigger a natural opioid effect, making us feel happier.
Do you have difficulty falling and staying asleep? If so, spray a sleep-inducing scent on your bed linen by mixing a few drops of essential oil and water in a spray bottle. Certain smells such as lavender, chamomile, and ylang-ylang help to activate the alpha wave activity in the brain leading to feelings of relaxation and more restorative sleep.
A ‘pill for every ill’ has definitely been the mantra amongst the allopathic medicine arena for many years, but is it time to look more closely at the short-term and long-term side effects to decipher if this really is the best strategy moving forward?