When Kerry Kennedy swerved across a highway and sideswiped a tractor-trailer, she wasnt drunk. She was, her attorneys say, driving under the influence of a sleeping pill she had mistakenly taken in place of a thyroid medication.
Millions of prescriptions for what are called Z drugs are written every year to treat sleep problems, and most of the folks who fill them get behind the wheel to go to work or shuttle the kids. Not a good idea; these sedatives make traffic accidents much more likely!
It takes three half lives of a Z-pill to make sure its gone from your system and your brain is clear. (Ask your pharmacist what your meds half life is.)
A good nights sleep has amazing, health-bestowing powers; sleeping pills often dont get you those rewards, since theyre known to trigger amnesia for nocturnal eating and night excursions in the car. So heres what you can do to sleep better:
Follow set routines before bed, keep consistent bed times and do nothing in the bed but enjoy sex and sleep.
Use red nightlights in your bathroom (they wont disrupt nighttime melatonin production).
For dinner, eat whole grains and light proteins; dont eat after 8 p.m.
Drink 8 ounces of tart cherry juice in the a.m. and again two hours before bed.
Avoid caffeine after lunchtime.
Dont drink alcohol before bed; it can cause neurotransmitter shifts that pop you awake.
The You Docs Mehmet Oz, host of The Dr. Oz Show and Mike Roizen of Cleveland Clinic are authors of YOU: Losing Weight. To submit questions, go to www.RealAge.com. A King Features syndicate.