ABC Medical Center > Digital magazine > Avoid self-medication for insomnia

Avoid self-medication for insomnia

23 August 2022

Key points:

  • Rapidly increasing the dose is an alarm signal.
  • In case of consuming prescription drugs, the indications must be followed correctly.
  • Consider that what works for one person will not necessarily work for another, so it is necessary to turn to a specialist.

Regularly, people buy products at the pharmacy or accept recommendations from family and friends for the purchase of medicines that help them fall asleep thanks to their over-the-counter sales, says Dr. Ángel Alberto Ruiz Chow, specialist in adult psychiatry at ABC Medical Center.

There is always the risk of causing an addiction when consuming drugs recommended by someone and not by the doctor, either by using a higher dose than required or by extended use.

So it is important not to self-medicate, discover what is your need, and request help from a specialist.

Also, although herbal drugs do not produce drug dependence, in general terms, they could represent a health risk, as is any substance foreign to our body.

How do I know if I have drug dependency?

Dr. Ruiz Chow says that in over-the-counter medications for insomnia, as with other medications, dependency can be detected due to any of the following:

  • Increasing the dose quickly.
  • Thinking for a long time about the substance that produces well-being.
  • Using the drug at other times of the day that are not related to sleep.
  • Bodily sensations such as racing heart, extreme sweating, or being tense.
  • The only moment of satisfaction happens when you take insomnia medicine.

“Most over-the-counter sleep aids contain antihistamines. Tolerance to the sedative effects of antihistamines can develop quickly, so the longer you take them, the less likely they are to make you sleepy.”1

Although this is easier to happen with over-the-counter medicines, thanks to their easy access. Medications prescribed by a doctor or psychiatrist could also cause this, but the main risk of it happening is when the prescription is not followed as given by the doctor.

Lastly, Dr. Ruiz Chow says that it is very important to understand that not all remedies are effective for all people because each health problem is individual and, therefore, the solution must also be personalized.

There are several alternatives called “sleep hygiene”, which could help you sleep properly. It is recommended that you see a specialist to find a specific treatment for your problem.

At the ABC Medical Center’s Neurology Center, we can provide you with specialized care. Contact us!

Dr. Ángel Alberto Ruiz Chow – Specialist in Adult Psychiatry at the ABC Medical Center
1 https://www.mayoclinic.org/es/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/sleep-aids/art-20047860

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    Dr. Ángel Alberto Ruiz Chow

    Dr. Ángel Alberto Ruiz Chow

    Adult Psychiatry

    Formed as Médico Cirujano at the Universidad Naval. Specialized on Adult Psychiatry at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

    Medical License: 2546096

    Learn more about this doctor Medical profile