What pills can I take to help me sleep? Be aware of the vicious circle of using pills to replace sleep.

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None.  There is not a pill that exists that can make you sleep naturally. Nor is there a pill that can even help with sleep. 

Sleeping pills – like alcohol – work by acting on receptors that stop your brain cells from firing or sending messages to each other.  They are sedatives. They in effect turn off some functions of the brain. The result is sedation not sleep. Sleep is full of brain activity to support learning, creativity, clearing out information, toxins and much more.

If you’re taking pills you’re not getting the right amount and right kinds of sleep.  You’ll wake groggy with reduced brain function as a result of the pills. You’ll then assume you’re not sleeping well and turn to pills to sleep.  You’re likely to use caffeine during the day to perk yourself back up which will make sleep harder so you look to sleeping pills again. It’s a vicious circle.

The answer is harder than buying and popping pills.  It’s a change in lifestyle and daytime habits. This however is healthier and far more effective.  Just needs more work. If you want to know more about routine for better sleep click here

Written by
Sam Billington

Sam is our sleep guru. I am fascinated by sleep and I've used my science training to research and learn about sleep. I have been providing sleep advice and personal sleep plans for years. My day job is Head of Workplace Culture in Defra, I live in London with my wife and have a PhD in Ecology and Biology.