Take it to Kourt: Hamilton vs. sleep aids

Take it to Kourt: Hamilton vs. sleep aids

Kourtnee Hamilton, Copy Editor

Recently, there has been an increase in the number of teens using over-the-counter medications to help them catch some Z’s, according to the New York Times.

The combination of endless hours of homework, overstimulation and a part-time job sends students to the pharmacy shelves to pick up a bottle of Zzzquil just so they can get to sleep as soon as his or her head hits the pillow.

Though the medications make falling asleep an effortless task, upon waking up the next morning, teenagers find themselves in a zombie-like state, making it difficult to maintain coherence in the early hours of school mornings.

These over-the-counter drugs are not safe for teens to be using on a regular basis. After all, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not approve the pharmaceuticals for anyone under the age of 18, mostly because the drugs are not used in trials dealing with children, only adults.

According to the New York Times, Medco Health Solutions released estimates stating that in 2004, more than 180,000 people under the age of 20 took sleep medications in the United States.

What is even more frightening is the fact that these 180,000 people all obtained prescriptions for their medication, proving that there is a significant abundance in the number of prescriptions that doctors write for their patients who have trouble sleeping.

However, teens, especially high school students have started turning to over-the-counter options such as melatonin pills and the more recently popular Zzzquil.

The liquid sleep aid was created in addition to Dayquil and Nyquil, over-the-counter medicines that help treat common cold and flu symptoms.

Teens, especially those still in school, should not rely on medications, prescription or otherwise, to help them fall asleep.

They can become dependent on the drug and think that without it, they will lie in bed, staring at their ceiling all night long, counting sheep.

While these drugs allow teens to fall asleep with little effort outside of crawling into bed, the side effects, such as changes in appetite, dry mouth, dry throat, headache and other various symptoms can cause serious problems.

There are several alternatives to using sleep medications to fall asleep.

NaturalSleep.org is a website that provides valuable health- related information specializing in sleep disorders and how to cure them naturally and safely.

Included in their list of the top 17 drug-free methods of getting to sleep more easily are keeping to a strict schedule each day, read books to relax your mind before bed, get enough exercise each day and eat a light dinner so your body does not have as much trouble working to digest what you ate.

With the rising popularity of sleep aids in society, teens need to evaluate whether it is really worth the cost and zombie-esque feeling to take a swig of Zzzquil before lying down for the night. Really, what is needed is to try simple, natural methods.