"Sleep Aids" and Sleep Issues
DOCTORS are calling for a rethink of the use of sleeping pills after a large study showed that the drugs carry a substantially increased risk of death for those who are prescribed them.
Commonly used sleeping pills, or “hypnotics”, such as temazepam and zolpidem, which is prescribed for short-term insomnia, are associated with more than a fourfold risk of death, according to the study published in the BMJ Open journal.
The study was carried out in the US, where up to 10 per cent of the adult population took sleeping pills in 2010. The authors estimate that sleeping pills may have been associated with 320,000 to 507,000 extra deaths in the US that year.
The researchers, led by Daniel Kripke from the Scripps Clinic Viterbi Family Sleep Centre in La Jolla, California, studied the population served by the largest rural integrated healthcare system in America, in Pennsylvania.
Over a two-and-a-half-year period, they compared the death rates among more than 10,500 people who received sleeping pill prescriptions with those of more than 23,600 others — matched for age, state of health and other factors — who had not received such medication. The average age of the study group was 54.
The scientists in the study found that even at a relatively low rate of prescription — fewer than 18 doses a year — those who were given the pills had a 3.5 times greater risk of death compared with those who were not prescribed them.
Individuals who were given pills more frequently — between 18 and 132 doses in a year — were more than four times more likely to be dead at the end of the study.
The risk of death for those on the most pills — 132 doses or more a year — was more than five times that of those on no pills.
Those who had taken the most pills were also 35 per cent more likely to be diagnosed with cancer — although they had not been at greater risk of cancer than the control group before the study began.
"Physicians need to wake up to the importance of a good night’s sleep" by Steven Y. Park, MD, KevinMD.com
"cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia works just as well for insomnia in the short term, but is superior to drugs in the long term" ~ good blog