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How NOT to fall asleep

We all have “those nights” when we struggle to catch a little shuteye.

But for millions of Americans — especially older folks — “those nights” are EVERY night, and that’s when they make one of the biggest mistakes of their lives.

They hit the pill bottle for a little help, and the latest numbers show they’re hitting it hard — turning to over-the-counter “sleep aids” every single night for months or even years at a time.

The new survey finds 1 in 5 adults use nighttime drugs like Advil PM, Nytol, Tylenol PM, Sominex, and ZzzQuil.

Of those folks, 41 percent say they’ve been taking the drugs for a year or more, and 18 percent say they reach for those meds EVERY SINGLE NIGHT.

You’re better off hitting yourself in the head with a rock!

At least the headache and bruise will go away. But if you take these meds every day, you could end up battling PERMANENT problems.

Most folks think the over-the-counter stuff is safer than the prescription stuff.

It’s easier to get, it’s cheaper, and, in most cases, it won’t knock you out quite so hard.

But these drugs aren’t “safe” by any stretch of the imagination.

Most of them are just different brand names for the same main ingredient: diphenhydramine, a.k.a. Benadryl. It’s not even a sleep drug, but an antihistamine that happens to make people fall asleep, too.

When you take it in the daytime for allergies, that’s downright inconvenient. But change the name or add a “PM” to it, and now you can sell it for the side effect.

Presto-chango, it’s a marketing miracle!

But while that little sleight-of-hand is great for the drug industry’s bottom line, it can have devastating consequences for your health.

Think it’s bad you can’t sleep? Imagine being woken up by what feels like a brick stuck in your gut — because many of these drugs can cause unpleasant side effects like constipation.

These over-the-counter meds can also cause you to feel so crummy the next morning it’s like a hangover, except you didn’t even get to enjoy any booze the night before.

But those aren’t the worst risks. Not even close.

Diphenhydramine is an anticholinergic drug that screws up the signaling network in your brain — and that can increase your long-term risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

You don’t need to turn to these drugs, and you don’t have to hit yourself in the head with a rock to get your sleep.

On a cold winter night, a hot toddy or some brandy in warm milk before bed can work wonders. Heck, even warm milk alone can do the trick — so don’t dismiss the basics.

If you need a little more help, try natural sleep therapies like melatonin.

Turning out the light,
Jack Harrison

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