Pharmacist’s Corner: The Day Starts with a Good Night’s Sleep

Sleep is important. I think most of us can agree its wonderful and incredibly useful in our day to day. Not getting enough/any sleep can completely change a person’s attitude, experiences, and personality.

Sleep hygiene is the practice of ensuring you get a healthy rest when you’re sleeping. Today we’re going to cover what insomnia is, what you can do at home to help, and what you need to talk to your pharmacist about.

I Can’t Sleep, Do I Have Insomnia?

Insomnia disorder is a serious condition that 10% to 35% of people in North American experience. It can be frustrating and painful to deal with for both you and those around you.

There’s actually a few types of insomnia.

  • Sleep-Onset or Initial Insomnia

    •  This is what people traditionally think Insomnia is: difficulty falling asleep
  • Sleep-Maintenance or Middle Insomnia

    •  If you wake up frequently in the night and have trouble maintaining a state of being asleep.
  • Early Morning Awakening or Late Insomnia

    •  This is an usual one. If you awake early consistently, to the point where you’re not getting enough rest, then you may have early morning awakening insomnia.
  • Nonrestorative Sleep

    •  This is if you’re not having trouble being asleep but rather continue to feel tired and unrested.

If you have any one of these for more than three nights per week, for at least three months, then it’s time you made a change to better your sleep hygiene.

What’s Causing It

You may just have chronic insomnia, or it could be caused by something else. The following list is some underlying causes that may be the root cause of your insomnia.

Daily Life Medical Conditions  



Daytime napping Angina ACE Inhibitors
Eating/exercising before bed Anxiety Albuterol
Jet lag Arrhythmia Alcohol
Shift Work Asthma Antipsychotics
Stress Depression Beta-Blockers
  Gastrointestinal reflux Bupropion
  Heart failure Caffeine
  Hyperthyroidism Clonidine
  Hypoglycemia Codeine
  Mania or hypomania Methylphenidate
  Menopausal symptoms Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors
  Pain Nicotine
  Parkinson’s Disease Oxycodone
  Peptic Ulcers Pemoline
  Periodic Limb Movement Phenylephrine
  Restless Leg Syndrome Pseudoephedrine
  Sleep Apnea Quinidine


Obviously, we cannot include every possible underlying cause but these are some common ones.

What Can I do to Help?

Proper sleep hygiene is key when trying to tackle insomnia.

  • Stick to a regular sleep schedule—even on weekends.

  • Get regular exercise—avoid exercise in the late evening.

  • Go to bed only when you are sleepy.

  • Put your worries away when you go to bed.

  • Do something relaxing and enjoyable before bedtime.

  • Make your bedroom quiet and comfortable.

  • Avoid large meals just before bedtime.

  • Use your bedroom only for sleep and sexual activity.

  • If you do not fall asleep within 15 to 20 minutes, get up and go to another room. Return to bed only when you feel drowsy.

  • Remove your clock from sight.

  • Do not nap during the day. If you must nap, do so only for 30 minutes in the early afternoon.

  • Avoid alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine.

  • Avoid frequent use of sedatives.

  • Spend time outdoors at the same time each day.

  • Have your pharmacist check your medicines, in case any of them keep you from sleeping.

  • Avoid bright lights from the TV, computers, video games, etc. before bed.

There are herbal treatments that can help as well such as valerian, chamomile, melatonin, and others but all these herbal treatments have limited efficacy and safety data and it is still always good to talk to your pharmacist before even trying a natural/herbal supplement.


Some over-the-counter pharmacological treatments such as OTC antihistamines (diphenhydramine – which is also the active ingredient in Benadryl) are marketed as well to help combat insomnia.


Although they produce a sedative effect, they have limited evidence of efficacy. Also, because of their side effects, they should not be recommended in the elderly.  There are also prescription strength medications for serious cases.


Whether you’re using a natural or pharmacological treatment it is recommended you take the lowest effective dose for the shortest duration of time. None of these should be used long term. Focusing on addressing the underlying causes of the sleep problem and using good sleep hygiene strategies is always the better way to go.


Keeping a sleep diary for one to two weeks is a smart way to start. Tracking sleep times, caffeine, and alcohol intake, etc. can provide a good indication of what might be getting you off track.


Changing these behaviors might be all that’s needed to help you sleep better. By maintaining good sleep habits (sleep hygiene), you may be able to avoid taking medicine. In kids, sticking with a regular sleep schedule and a calming bedtime routine can help.


Capsule Pharmacy can help rebuild your sleep hygiene and get you back to the healthiest version of you! Come visit us today to talk to our Pharmacists about Sleep Hygiene!

by Capsule Pharmacy | | Categories : Categories: Uncategorized

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