Singer Cheryl took to her Instagram Story yesterday (16 November) to open up about how she's struggled with her sleeping pattern in the past, revealing that she occasionally took sleeping tablets to help combat her "overthinking and under-sleeping."
Speaking to her 3.5 million Instagram followers, the former Girls Aloud singer said: "I used to call the doctor for when I couldn't sleep for sleeping pills but I'd always feel groggy and couldn't get going the next day."
Although she's since stopped taking sleeping pills, instead opting for natural remedies, doctors are warning against the method in case others think of doing the same. "It isn’t recommended to take sleeping pills for overthinking or any other condition unless it’s been prescribed by a medical professional," stresses Dr Elizabeth Rogers, Associate Clinical Director at Bupa Health Clinics.
She explains that while sleeping pills might offer temporary relief by making you feel more relaxed and at ease, they "won’t cure your overthinking, anxiety or insomnia." On top of that, sleeping pills often come with a string of side effects, which include "feeling low or sad, falling over and losing your memory."
Dr Jane Leonard agrees, pointing out that "Using medication for any other reason than what it is prescribed for is never recommended and is unsafe." Referencing Cheryl's overthinking and anxiety, Dr Leonard added: "Using sleeping tablets to block out these thoughts is very unsafe and actually makes the underlying problem worst in the long term."
Both doctors emphasise that, if you're experiencing overthinking or anxiety, there are plenty of options out there when it comes to finding a solution that works best for you. "There are lots of alternatives to try instead [of sleeping tablets], and your doctor will often recommend CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) in the first instance," explains Dr Rogers. "Behaviour changes learned through CBT or other techniques are generally the best treatment."
As well as CBT, Dr Leonard reminds us that lifestyle changes can help improve mental health too. "This approach [CBT], combined with lifestyle changes; exercise, mindfulness, adequate rest and regular self-care breaks from work can also reduce anxiety and overthinking."
Ultimately though, Dr Rogers highlights the importance of seeking out professional advice if you're struggling with anxiety, rather than resorting to sleeping tablets. "If you’re finding overthinking or anxious thoughts difficult to manage, then make an appointment to see your GP for help and support," she says, "There are treatments out there that can help."
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