Only when you absolutely have to.
The safest and healthiest way to use sleeping pills is “to avoid them as much as possible unless absolutely needed,” says Dr. Mark Boulos, a neurologist at Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Science, citing “the night before you go in for surgery, or for only a few days at a time during stressful times in life” as good examples. Columbia neurology professor Dr. Carl Bazil adds that before going in for any pill treatment either at the pharmacy or with your doctor, first take a look at your sleeping habits since these could be the roots of your problem. “People don’t often think about it, but stimulants late in the day like caffeine, chocolate, or nicotine keep people awake,” he says. Then there’s your smartphone or tablet, whose light tends to trick your body into thinking it isn’t bedtime yet. “If you’re working up to the time you go to bed, you won’t be able to just turn it off,” Bazil says. “You need time to lie down and let your brain relax.” If you’ve checked your habits and you’re still having trouble sleeping, that’s when you should consider a pill.
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