Sleeplessness can be caused by numerous causes but has been linked to:
- Anxiety & Stress
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Chronic pain
- Shift work
- Change in time zone
- Medication side effect
- Consumption of stimulants caffeine, nicotine etc. or overstimulation caused by watching TV, playing video games, using electronic devices or overexercising
- Medical conditions like sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, parkinson’s disease
Sleep is important for the body to function properly. The Australian Sleep Health Foundation (https://www.sleephealthfoundation.org.au/pdfs/Good-Sleep-Habits.pdf) recommend the following tips for good sleep hygiene:
- Avoid consuming stimulants (including caffeine, nicotine, chocolate) and alcohol within 4 hours of bedtime
- Allow 2 hours to pass after eating before going to bed.
- Avoid trying to sleep with the TV on, brightly lit rooms, or using a blue lit electronic devices one hour before bedtime.
- Setup or change your bedroom to remove televisions, avoid using blue light electronic devices when in bed, cover the clock to stop clock watching and building anxiety.
- Getting outside in sunlight early during the day can help regulate your body’s circadian cycle ensuring a better night’s sleep
- At nighttime avoid fighting the urge to go to sleep, act on your body’s urge to go to sleep when it first presents itself.
- Try to avoid napping during the day especially if you are having difficulty going to sleep during the night.
- Start a good sleeping routine by setting a bedtime and varying it as little as possible. In the hour before bedtime the time should be spent winding down and doing relaxing things like take a warm shower or bath, or having a warm milk drink to help the body relax in readiness for sleep.
- Avoid lying in bed tossing and turning or clock watching. If you are not asleep after 20 minutes of lying down in bed it is best to get up and go to another room and read quietly then when feeling tired again go back to bed.
In conjunction with lifestyle changes and good sleep hygiene habits the common compounded preparations to aid sleep management is melatonin.
Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland in the brain which helps regulate the sleep and wake cycle. It is commonly used to treat insomnia and jetlag in adults as well as having a broad range of uses in improving sleep in children. In children with autism-spectrum disorder (ASD), melatonin has been found to be effective for sleeplessness in a number of trials. This, in conjunction with its high safety profile and relatively low incidence of side-effects has led to it being a relatively common prescription amongst this patient group.
Immediate release capsule or the liquid formulations are good when a person has trouble getting their body to wind down ready for sleep. Whereas the slowed release capsule formulation delivers a constant baseline level of the hormone which is good in people that suffer from broken sleep.
Our compounding pharmacists regularly compound liquid preparations and capsules with immediate or slowed release tailored to the patients dosing requirements.