Sleep Aid, Sleep Drug or Sleep Disaster?
Your question is simple: how can I get better sleep at night?
Maybe you suffer from “sleep-onset insomnia,” which is the inability to fall asleep when you lay down in bed at night. This is pretty common, these days.
Or perhaps you suffer from “maintenance insomnia.” This means you wake up during the night and can’t get back to sleep. Sound familiar?
Whatever your sleeping problem is, if you Google a solution, you’re going to find a simple answer: sleep aids. They’re not hard to find. You can find piles of them on the shelves at Walmart. You see their colorful boxes hanging in bookstore racks at the airport. And the truth is, most of them work to some degree. Trust us - we’ve tried them all!
But alas, common sleep aids are almost never a solution to your problem. After all, if 68% of Americans have trouble sleeping at night, then our burgeoning sleep aid industry isn’t really doing its job, is it?
What’s the real problem here?
Let’s examine the three different kinds of popular sleep aids and see what kinds of effects they truly have on your body and your brain.
Real Sleep Aids
Real sleep aids are not drugs. Sleep, after all, is a natural human process, and natural human processes don’t need exogenous chemicals to get started (except in extremely rare and unfortunate situations). Thus, good sleep is a function of health.
The best kinds of sleep aids, like Hibernate, promote this natural, healthy process. They provide the nutrients your body needs to generate its nightly hormonal cascade. They shore up common nutritional deficiencies. They offer the building blocks of sleep.
It’s a lot like lifting weights, actually. Every gym bro knows that no matter how intense your workouts, if you don’t consume enough protein, you can’t build muscle. You’ll train yourself ragged. You’ll never see progress. You’ll feel like garbage and accrue little injuries (and probably start sleeping poorly to boot).
Muscular hypertrophy, the process of building new muscle tissue, is a natural process that requires specific ingredients to work. You get those ingredients from copious amounts of good, clean food. Gym bros have learned to help this process by supplementing with high-quality protein powders. By consuming whey or veggie protein, or maybe eating more steak or lentils, they shore up the nutritional deficiency created through lifting weights.
Real sleep aids function the same way.
If your diet doesn’t provide enough of the nutrients your brain needs to facilitate healthy sleep, then a high-quality sleep supplement very well may shore up these deficiencies. That’s why a successful sleep aid like Hibernate will leave you feeling fresh and energetic in the morning, with no druggy hangover. It will help you achieve the natural, restful sleep your body craves. Not some shoddy counterfeit.
(That’s also why so many gym bros, triathletes, and yoga practitioners love Hibernate - they sleep hard, recover fully from their workouts, and afterward the feeling of good health is tangible.)
Yet, speaking of shoddy counterfeits...
Over-The-Counter Sleep Drugs
Ah, these products (or should we say “product”) you surely recognize. They’re everywhere, they’re as common as aspirin, and they’re cheap as dirt. Every large pharmaceutical company produces them and you can find them in any grocery store. And they’re all unique and special, right?
No, not at all.
They’re all just one drug: Diphenhydramine.
Google it. Go ahead. We’ll wait.
According to our dear friends at Wikipedia, diphenhydramine is an antihistamine mainly used to treat allergies. It’s also used for insomnia, symptoms of the common cold, nausea and Parkinson’s disease.
Hey, that’s a pretty miraculous drug! We admit it. Modern science is a wondrous thing. To think that one drug can calm our sniffles, put us to sleep, and even help with symptoms for Parkinson’s disease, that is pretty cool.
No wonder that (according to Drugs.com) it’s the primary or only ingredient in: Allergy Relief, Allermax, Banophen, Benadryl, Compoz Nighttime Sleep Aid, Diphedryl, Diphenhist, Dytuss, Nytol QuickCaps, PediaCare Children's Allergy, Q-Dryl, QlearQuil Nightitme Allergy Relief, Quenalin, Scot-Tussin Allergy Relief Formula, Siladryl Allergy, Silphen Cough, Simply Sleep, Sleepinal, Sominex, Tranquil, Twilite, Unisom Sleepgels Maximum Strength, Valu-Dryl, Vanamine PD, Z-Sleep, and ZzzQuil, plus many others.
Of course, it has a whole raft of side effects, including pounding heartbeats, mental confusion, loss of tongue control, and constipation. (Boy that sounds like a great night’s sleep!)
And yes, it’s still a drug, so you’re eventually going to develop a tolerance. That means you’ll need to take more and more diphenhydramine to fall asleep (that’s when the side effects really get fun).
But, diphenhydramine does work. No one can argue with that. It will probably make you drowsy. It’ll probably give you a hangover. And it will probably be disastrous for your workout recovery. But, it will probably work to some degree.
Again, we know, we used it for years.
But that’s the drawback with diphenhydramine: it doesn’t give you natural, healthy sleep. It treats your symptoms, but won’t do anything to address the root cause of why you can’t fall asleep. It won’t make you a better, healthier, more energetic person.
That’s why we refuse to call diphenhydramine a “real” sleep aid.
Yet, it’s not the worst option, is it?
Prescription Sleep Bombs
Some of you (and us!) have dealt with truly nightmarish insomnia. You’ve gone days on end with no sleep at all, or only a few hours. You’ve walked through your life like a zombie. You’ve felt depression come snarling in, and you’ve really started to resent all the normal people who sleep like babies at night.
We know. We’ve been there. We actually believe that there are two kinds of people in the world: those of us whose brains have trouble producing melatonin, and all the rest who can never understand what it’s like to be exhausted and nerve-wracked all the time.
For those of you who’ve experienced this awfulness, we bet you’re quite familiar with Ambien®, Lunesta®, or one of the other sleep bombs our trigger-happy modern doctors are happy to prescribe.
For us, it was zopiclone. We used to pop that stuff like candy. And for a while, it was great. For the first time ever, we actually got to sleep.
Sure, our doctor friends said: “Be careful, that stuff can really mess with your brain chemistry.”
And, to them we said: “Gimme a break! I’m sleeping for the first time in my life, and now you easy sleepers are telling me not to?! Get lost.”
But. Our doctor friends were right.
Most of these modern sleeping pills are classified as “nonbenzodiazepine,” or “Z-drugs.” They’re also spookily referred to as “hypnotic agents.”
Read that again: hypnotic agents.
Does that sound like healthy sleep?
No, it doesn’t. Because Z-drugs don’t offer normal, healthy sleep. They offer something that feels like sleep, thanks to side effects like hallucination and retrograde amnesia.
(How great is that? You might not actually sleep at all, but you’ll get amnesia so you can’t remember it. Win!)
No surprise then that one study showed how Z-drugs more than DOUBLE the risk of developing depression.
Or how about the common side effects like: muscle pain, memory loss, suicidal thoughts, panic attacks and decreased libido? Is that what you’re looking for?
No! You just want normal, healthy sleep. You want to feel like all of those easy sleepers out there. You just want to wake up feeling like a normal human.
Hey, we’re biased. We prioritize health. We like working out, waking up smiling, and enjoying the libido of a tyrannosaurus.
That’s why we prefer “real” sleep aids, and why we created Hibernate. It took us years to figure out that a properly sourced, high-quality supplement, combined with good nightly sleep hygiene, made us feel better than we ever had in our lives. No joke: it actually made us feel younger.
No more harrowing sleepless nights. No more retrograde amnesia. No more morning hangovers. Finally, now, we get to understand what it feels like to be a normal human.
Or maybe not? Because last night, I slept for over 9 hours, and the statistics say that’s not normal at all.
That’s what a “real” sleep aid can do.