The Risk of Sleeping Pills

4164837356_5bc691d9feEveryone has a few tough nights of sleep from time to time, but you may want to think about trying some other options before you turn to sleeping pills for help. Recent studies have showed that there are more risks associated with sleeping pills than previously thought.

The Study

 The British Medical Journal Open reports that even people who took sleeping pills rarely, 18 times or less a year, still had a 3.5 times higher risk of death than those who did not take any sleeping pills. The research followed hypnotic drugs used to aid sleep, such as the popular drugs Ambien and Lunesta. 

The research also showed that there was an increased incidence of cancer within the group of people followed using the hypnotic sleeping pills. The publication concluded that increased incidence of cancer and mortality were not “attributable to pre-existing disease”  

Increase in Sleep Disorders

According to studies, six to ten percent of Americans were prescribed sleeping pills in 2010. And, and estimated 50 to 70 million Americans face insomnia or other sleep disorder. Sleeping disorders are on the rise, and it is important to address both causes and cures. It may be that many Americans are facing an increase in stress that causes sleep disorders. Or, maybe decreasingly healthy lifestyles, with less exercise and less nutritious food choices are leading to more sleep related problems. Other causes may include, shift work, excessive screen time, and smoking.

Addressing the Cause

Whether or not sleeping pills actually cause higher mortality rates, there are very serious risks that come with their use. If you are suffering from insomnia or other sleep disorder, be sure you discuss with your doctor all of your options before using a sleeping pill to help you get more rest at night. Try to pinpoint why you are unable to sleep, and see if you can address the cause before using a sleeping pill. Be aware that there are also serious risks associated with insomnia including, danger of sleeping while driving, increased risk of diabetes, and increased risk of heart disease. Insomnia should not be ignored, and it is necessary to get help if you experience it consistently.

Photo “Big giant ouchie” courtesy of Sarah G

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