Authentic voices. Remarkable stories. AOL On Originals showcase the passions that make the world a more interesting place.
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Dr. Janet Kennedy talks about the pros and cons of sleeping pills.
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Hi, I'm Janet Kennedy. I'm a licensed clinical psychologist and sleep specialist in New York City. You can find out more about me and my work on my website, nycsleepdoctor.com. If you're having trouble sleeping, you might be interested in taking medication to treat the problem. Here are some things to consider. First of all, taking medication is a quick fix, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. If you're really struggling, and you've had several nights of bad sleep, if you're becoming very anxious about that, sometimes taking medication can help you get back on track. And if you're in a particularly stressful period in your life, and you know that it's going to be temporary, medication can really be helpful in getting you through. You might want to consider whether the medication you need would be to treat insomnia or to treat anxiety that you're struggling with. The problem is that medication can become very psychologically addictive, and that even if your body doesn't need it, you might believe that you're not able to sleep without it. That makes it harder to sleep without medication than it is if you've never taken it. Medications also have side effects, and some of the medications on the market today have pretty serious ones. So that's another consideration if you think you might need to take medication for the long term. Medications also take away your control. If you rely on medications for sleeping, you start to feel like you're just unable to handle it on your own. And that's not true. You can learn to take back control and treat the underlying problem. Medications can be useful in a lot of situations, but if you think you might need to take medications for the long term, talk to your doctor about alternatives to see if there's something better out there for you.