In recent years the American Drug companies have opened a floodgate of drugs onto the American people. Often times the drugs are designed to treat minor irritations, or as more often is the case, disorders that simply did not exist fifteen years ago. And its not that we've recently discovered many of these disorders, its that many of these disorders were invented as a marketing campaign for a near useless chemical compound that a drug company has found a use for. Which is not to say that all drugs fall under this terrible category. Plenty of conditions out there warrant the use of drugs, and without these drugs many people would suffer far more than they have to now. The problem lies within the fact that drug companies are now chemically treating lifestyle symptoms, and not just medical conditions.
There are several lifestyle conditions out there that are easily treatable without the use of drugs, and that, without having the horrible side effects that taking these drugs come with. Medicines for certain types of high blood pressure are treated with drugs that come with risks of death, when all these people really need is just to take it easy, change their diet and learn to breathe properly. Obesity is being treated chemically more and more often, when really proper diet and exercise is the key. It is an out of laziness that many people take medical options, such as drugs and liposuction, over a jog, and salad. Sleep aids are handed out to people who are already suffering from compound drug and physical addictions, in order to make them fall sleep. But these sleep aids are often just as addictive (if not more so) than the caffeine, sugar, and television that they're already addicted to.
Sleep aid drugs do not actually promote healthy, natural sleep. They are sedatives; they sedate you. Sedation and sleep are not the same things, though they do appear the same. But you have to ask yourself, "does my body go through the proper REM cycles under sedation that it does with healthy natural sleep?" "Am I really rested when I'm using sedatives instead of sleep?" Just because a chemical tranquilizer knocks you out for eight hours does not mean that your body is going through its sleep cycles for eight hours.
Certain things happen to your body when you sleep. One of sleeps functions is to, in essence, check all of your systems and make sure they're working properly, rejuvenate the ones that may be lacking in some way, and basically run your brain through a sort of re-boot and systems check process. However, sedatives sedate your whole body, not just the part that's keeping you awake. There are healthy, natural ways to enhance your sleep cycles, without the use of drugs. These are lifestyle changes that will actually improve more than just your sleep!
Caffeine is a highly addictive drug, more so than most illegal narcotics, but because it does not have any mind-expanding properties, and because it is so heavily capitalized on by major US companies the FDA will not ban its use. Remember, caffeine was originally used as a substitute for cocaine when it's use was banned by the FDA because of its mind-altering properties. Caffeine is equally addictive and chances are, if you're having problems sleeping, you probably have an addiction to caffeine. This is a good place to start. It is a tough drug to beat, but it can be done. Getting yourself off of caffeine will drastically improve your sleep, and will also (because of better sleep) improve your wakefulness in the morning as well.
Another issue with healthy natural sleep is modern distractions; lights, television, music, or video games. When you sleep you should try to make the room you are in as dark as possible. This means no television or games in the bedroom. Sure they're great, but they're also keeping you up! The darker the room, the more naturally you will sleep, and the fewer the distractions the more restful you will remain. Music can be good if it remains consistent, but often times music contains lyrics, drastic changes, crescendos and other anomalies that disrupt sleep. If you feel you need some sound in the room, often to block out sounds of traffic, try a white noise machine. Or, if you're really adventurous get a CD of nature sounds that will loop continuously for hours. These are great because, not only can they help block out disabling traffic sounds, they also simulate realistic sounds of nature that have been shown to be soothing, and rejuvenating to the listener, and they make great sleep aids that will greatly impact your dreams, thus invigorating your REM cycles. Nature sound CDs can also be used for meditation or for creating a peaceful ambiance to your house or office during the day as well.
Another lifestyle change that can help improve your sleep is diet change. Yes, I know; everything these days wants you to change your diet and exercise habits. There is a reason for that. By improving your diet and increasing the amount of physical activity that you get every day you will sleep better! And it will decrease your weight as advertised! Plus, improving your diet and exercise can help lower your blood pressure, as will learning good breathing techniques. The reason there is so much emphasis placed on diet and exercise is because it works, because that's what our bodies have evolved to do! That is how we are meant to function, and when we neglect those things, health and sleeping problems will occur!
Get rid of McDonalds, get rid of Burger King, they have little nutritional value and are doing nothing to improve your life! Start eating high quality foods. It's not expensive. Based on your digestive system, and on the design of your teeth, your body is built to have a roughly 30% meat diet. A soy and horse by-product burger from McDonalds is poor substitute for what your digestive system is actually craving. Start preparing foods at home. It is cheaper to buy groceries for a week than eat out every night, and the foods you eat will be higher in quality as a result.
All of these things, if applied, will greatly increase the quality of your sleep, and as a result will increase the quality of your life. Bad habits are hard to break, but good habits will make it worth the effort! Eat better, exercise better, sleep better, and live better! You will not regret the changes you make!