Compounding Pharmacists Are Key Resources for Patients With Sleep Disorders

Compounding Pharmacists Are Key Resources for Patients With Sleep Disorders

i-clipboardBy the time Marie searched for an over-the-counter remedy, her sleep had been disrupted every night for five years, but it was her young son, Bryan, who had the sleep disorder.

Long after Bryan stopped relying on nighttime feedings, he continued to wake several times during the night. By the time he was four, he seldom nodded off before midnight, and for the next two years he never slept through the night. His sleep pattern disrupted everyone in the family, especially Marie, who woke every time he did.

A month after his fifth birthday, Bryan was diagnosed with autism. While this helped explain why he struggled to sleep; his autism treatments, including antipsychotic and anxiolytic medications, didn’t help the problem. Marie needed guidance about safe and effective sleep aids for her son, but she was exhausted. “I couldn’t concentrate well enough to ask the right questions,” she said. Marie and patients in similar situations would greatly benefit from the insight and guidance of compounding pharmacists.

Sleep Deprivation Declared a Public Health Epidemic

An estimated 18 percent of American adults — roughly 44 million people — get fewer than six hours of sleep on a regular basis.1 Teens are in worse shape. About 90 percent of high school students are sleep deprived.2 Twenty percent reported sleeping fewer than five hours per night, which falls significantly short of the recommended eight to ten hours.3

These statistics don’t include kids like Bryan, yet they’re still high enough that the CDC calls sleep deprivation a public health epidemic.4 Given such high prevalence rates, it’s no surprise that one in five adults use an OTC sleep aid and sales of these products jumped 51 percent in 2013.5

Without the benefit of sleep’s homeostatic functions, everyone who falls short on sleep faces a higher risk for chronic health problems. Impaired memory, hormonal fluctuations leading to obesity, insulin resistance and subsequent development of type 2 diabetes are major concerns associated with sleep deficiency. Compounding pharmacists are perfectly positioned to help their patients through active outreach and by compounding sleep aids that fit the needs of each person.

Natural Remedies

Whether your customers choose sleep products containing antihistamines or prefer supplements made from natural ingredients, as a compounding pharmacist, you have a distinct advantage: you can offer custom blends based on each person’s circumstances.

Compounding pharmacists are experts in the natural ingredients used in pre-formulated blends, but the top choices include:

  • Melatonin:  Well-known regulator of circadian rhythm.
  • GABA: Inhibitory neurotransmitter that promotes sleep.
  • Valerian: Provides sedative and anxiolytic effect by inhibiting the degradation of GABA.
  • Herbs: Chamomile, passion flower and lemon balm offer sedative effects, prolong sleep time and inhibit the breakdown of GABA respectively. If your patient’s sleep is disrupted by stress, herbs may be all they need.

It’s important to keep in mind that many consumers worry about safety when it comes to sleep aids and natural products. Make it a point to explain that these ingredients are non-addictive and safe for long-term consumption. With several well-publicized recalls of compounded medications in recent years, it also doesn’t hurt to emphasize that the ingredients are produced in facilities following strict regulations that ensure quality and safety.

Outreach for Compounding Pharmacists

A two-pronged approach to outreach — initiating contact and targeting special populations — will go a long way toward developing strong connections with patients.

Initiate Contact: With a variety of sleep aids readily available on the shelf, many customers make a purchase without stopping to ask questions. Pharmacy staff can take a few steps to initiate contact:

  • Increase awareness of compounded sleep aids and free consultations by putting ads near the cash register and sleep products.
  • Offer to talk with anyone purchasing an OTC sleep aid. Don’t ask if they have any questions, just mention that custom-compounded sleep aids are available and ask if they’d like a private consultation.
  • Provide brief pamphlets covering sleep hygiene and a questionnaire to help target causes behind sleep problems.

During consultations, stay focused on the multifactorial nature of sleep disorders. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach, which works to the advantage of individualized compounding. For each person, explore lifestyle issues and emotional or medical conditions that affect their sleep. Ask about caffeine consumption, shift work, sleep hygiene, stress, anxiety and chronic pain.

Target Special Populations: The elderly and people diagnosed with autism are prone to sleep disorders. Both groups benefit from natural sleep aids that won’t aggravate existing health conditions or interact with medications.

  • Autism: About 44 to 83 percent of school-aged children with autism spectrum disorders struggle to fall asleep or wake frequently throughout the night.6 Many parents are advised to use melatonin because it effectively improves sleep onset and reduces nighttime awakenings in children with autism.7
  • Elderly: Melatonin production diminishes with age, which is one major reason why half of the elderly population don’t get enough sleep.8 Its levels are especially low in people with Alzheimer’s disease. Melatonin is a good choice for the elderly because it has a low risk of side effects and improves sleep quality, sleep onset and morning alertness.9

Opportunity for Patient-Centered Treatment

Daytime drowsiness, poor job performance and falling asleep behind the wheel often motivate people to buy sleep aids, yet the story behind each individual’s lack of sleep is remarkably different. Patients with sleep deficiency exemplify the value of patient-centered treatment, which they’ll only get from customized compounding.

Pharmaceutica North America provides safe, high-quality pharmaceuticals and innovative delivery systems grounded in the most up-to-date research. Please contact us for more information about how our non-addictive sleep aid can benefit your patients.

Show 9 footnotes

  1. “2010 Sleep in America Poll,” March 2010,
  2. “Prevalence of Sleep Duration on an Average School Night Among Four Nationally Representative Successive Samples of American High School Students, 2007-2013,” December 2014,
  3.  “National Sleep Foundation’s Sleep Time Duration Recommendations: Methodology and Results Summary,” January 2015,
  4. “Insufficient Sleep is a Public Health Epidemic,” January 2014,
  5.  “Getting Ahead of the Curve: Sleep,” December 2013,
  6. “Epidemiology and Management of Insomnia in Children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders,” April 2010,
  7.  “Melatonin in Autism Spectrum Disorders,” December 2014,
  8. “Sleep and Sleep Disorders in Older Adults,” March 2011,
  9.  “Efficacy of Prolonged Release Melatonin in Insomnia Patients Ages 55-80 Years: Quality of Sleep and Next-Day Alertness Outcomes, October 2007,

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