- Sleeping Pills Increase the Risk of Death for up to 4 Times, New Study Reveals -

By Helen Holmes republished on December 01, 2017

 People who take prescription pills to fight insomnia are four times more likely to die early than those who don’t, an interesting study published in BMJ Open reports. This includes the use of benzodiazepines, non-benzodiazepines, barbiturates and some forms of sedative.

Death Risk Associated with Sleeping Pills

Researchers from Jackson Hole Centre for Preventive Medicine in Wyoming and the Scripps Clinic Viterbi Family Sleep Centre in California looked on the data of more than 33,000 people who used sleeping pills. Among the drugs that are commonly used are temazepam, zopiclone, and zolpidem. The research team found out that after two years of taking sleeping pills, one out of 16 patients die. On the other hand, only one dies out of 80 people who don’t take sleeping pills. They also found out that such medications lift the risk of cancers and other diseases by 35%. The researchers however admitted that even though there’s a potential risk associated with sleeping pills, the proof of harm is still lacking. They said that people should not be worried of this nor immediately stop their medication. Nonetheless, they should always consult their doctor.

Millions of Sleeping Pills are Prescribed Yearly in Britain  

In 2010, there were 2.8 million temazepam, 750,000 zolpidem, 5.3 million zopiclone and 9,400 zaleplon pills were prescribed in England. It is very clear, based on the UK guidelines that sleeping pills and hypnotic drugs should only be prescribed for a short period of time and not as a permanent treatment. This is due to the high risk of tolerance and drug dependency. The current NHS guideline however, does not mention anything about the potential risk of these pills to one’s health. But according to Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, they will be considering the result of the new study to determine whether it has any repercussion to the existing guidelines. According to Nina Barnett of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, even though the study is unlikely to change the manner of prescribing sleeping pills, it will help increase awareness among medical practitioners and patients regarding the potential health risks of drugs used to address insomnia.

Alternative Treatments for Insomnia

Many people are able to deal with sleepless nights without having to take sleeping pills. There are a wide range of natural remedies for insomnia. If you’re concerned about the effects of prescription medications, there are several things you can do to have a good night sleep. Among the most popular are the so called relaxation techniques. They include visualisation, mindfulness meditation, yoga and progressive muscle relaxation. Modifying one’s daily diet is also important. Reducing your caffeine intake (coffee, caffeinated tea, chocolates, etc.) and avoiding sugary foods are great ways to fight insomnia. While sweet foods can raise one’s mood, it can cause imbalance in the blood sugar level which can disrupt sleeping patterns. Health experts suggest eating more of foods that are rich in magnesium such as legumes, dark leafy green vegetables, cashews, almonds and wheat bran.

How about you, what other natural remedies can you think of? We love to hear from you! Feel free to add a comment below.

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