Q. Every time I read that sleep is essential for good health I want to scream. I would love a good night’s sleep because I know it would boost my immune system and help me control my weight as well as improve my outlook and my memory. I worry that my chronic insomnia is making my allergies, high blood pressure and depression worse.
No matter what I try, though, nothing works. That includes sleeping pills, herbs and melatonin. Is there anything that can help me get a few hours of decent sleep?
A. If you take medications for hypertension, allergies or depression, it is possible that these drugs could be contributing to your insomnia. Many medications, including beta blockers like atenolol and metoprolol, can interfere with sleep quality. So can antidepressants such as fluoxetine and sertraline or decongestants like pseudoephedrine. Such drugs could be keeping you awake.
We have a list of medications that cause insomnia in the Guide to Getting a Good Night’s Sleep we are sending you. You will find suggestions such as foods that might help you feel drowsy and sleep routines (like a hot bath before bed) that can ease your way to slumber.
Some people tell us that 250 to 500 mg of magnesium at bedtime helps them. Others find relaxation tapes allow them to ease into sleep. You may also want to listen to our interviews with Dr. Lawrence Kline and Dr. Matthew Edlund about solving the sleep dilemma. The doctors discuss natural ways to get the sleep you need.