Sleep Aids Aren’t a Substitute for Sleep

Well-rested drivers are safer drivers. Without enough quality sleep, drivers and heavy equipment operators are less likely to react quickly and prudently to safety hazards. The risk of falling asleep behind the wheel is even more serious. The issue of driver fatigue may prompt some to consider sleep aids as a substitute for falling asleep naturally. Here’s a look at the science of sleep aids.

Overview of Sleep Aids

Most over-the-counter (OTC) sleep aids use an antihistamine as the active ingredient. Antihistamines are best known for treating allergies, but since they make patients drowsy, they’re also used to induce sleep. Prescription sleep aids typically work by affecting a brain chemical, called GABA, which has the effect of reducing nerve activity to support sleep. Both OTC and prescription sleep aids carry major short-term and long-term risks, not the least of which is the potential for habit formation and abuse.

Risks of Sleep Aids

One of the many reasons why sleep aids aren’t a substitute for natural, restorative sleep is that they tend to leave the patient drowsy and groggy the next day. Some people have described the feeling as being comparable to a hangover. Clearly, sleep aids can’t effectively address the problem of driver fatigue if they cause drowsiness. Additionally, patients tend to quickly develop a tolerance to the drugs, which means they don’t induce sleep as effectively. There is also a potential for adverse reactions to the medications, and individuals with certain medical conditions cannot safely take them without risking an interaction.

Alternatives to Sleep Aids

While some individuals can use sleep aids on an occasional basis without being significantly affected the next day, sleep aids still aren’t a permanent answer to insomnia. People who suffer from persistent insomnia may benefit from working with a sleep medicine specialist. This doctor can diagnose the problem and recommend a drug-free treatment plan, including improvements in sleep hygiene and perhaps cognitive behavioral therapy.

Driver fatigue is a serious problem on commercial sites, but Guardvant can help with high-tech risk management solutions. Call our headquarters in Tucson at (520) 299-1911 for information about proximity detection and collision avoidance systems.