Sleeping Pills Not Necessarily the Answer for Insomniacs

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It it not uncommon for people to occasionally have problems falling asleep and staying asleep at night.

"Most people will suffer what we call transient insomnia, where it happens usually based off of stress," Lisa Bond with the St. Joseph Sleep Center said. "Some kind of traumatic incident that may have happened. Maybe a family member has passed. It might last for a week to two weeks then it goes away."

However, extended periods of restless nights are anything but the norm. In chronic cases of insomnia, problems sleeping can last much longer, and officials say many turn to the wrong solutions.

"Most people will run to the grocery store and buy anything that says 'PM.' Then, they'll go to the doctor and ask for a sleeping pill, but that may not be the best thing to do," Bond said. "What you need to do is find out if there's a medical cause for the insomnia. Most people think it's a sleeping disorder, but it's actually not really. It's a symptom."

Officials say it's a symptom that needs to be taken seriously since underlying medical issues can sometimes be the root of those sleepless nights.

However, other times tossing and turning can be a result of self-inflicted bad habits, such as eating late, drinking caffeine and trying to catch up on sleep during the day.

"For example, they're tired, so they lie down and take a nap. Well, if you take a nap at 3:00 in the afternoon, you sleep for two-to-four hours, that's going to press of your need to sleep at night," Bond said.

Anyone with problems sleeping should consider consulting a doctor, because lack of sleep can cause serious problems down the line.

"You can have problems concentrating. You can have problems remembering things. You can have problems with drowsy driving, which is extremely dangerous," Bond said.