Sleeping pills may do some people more harm than good, new research suggests. According to a report published in the 27 February 2012 issue of BMJ Open, people who frequently take hypnotic prescriptions i.e. sleeping pills are more likely to die than people who do not take such medication.
Medical researchers learned of this after studying a large collection of electronic medical records as part of a longitudinal cohort survival analysis. The analysis included 10,529 patients who received hypnotic prescription meds for 2.5 years between January 2002 and January 2007 who were matched to a control group consisting of 23,676 patients who did not take medically prescribed sleeping pills.
The medical records showed that most of the patients were 54 years of age with pre-existing medical conditions. Sleeping pills might have helped patients to get more sleep but researchers found they were associated with increased mortality.
It was discovered that patients who took prescription meds to help them sleep were 4.6 times more likely to die than patients who didn't take sleeping pills.
The risk of death held up even among patients who took less than 18 pills per year.
Lead researcher Daniel Kripke of the Scripps Clinic Viterbi Family Sleep Center in La Jolla, California pointed out that studies show sleeping pills induce a hypnotic state which impairs the user's cognitive abilities. Sleeping pills, therefore, are linked to more automobile accidents, falls and hangover sedation all of which contribute to increased mortality.
Kripke's analysis also found that sleeping pills were associated with ulcers and certain cancers. Prescription meds were linked to increased gastric regurgitation, a medical condition that lead to cancer and damage to the esophagus.
Are There Alternatives To Sleeping Pills?
Kripke and his collagues mentioned cognitive behavioral therapy could be more successful in treating chronic insomnia.
Last summer, we wrote about research coming out of the University of Pittsburgh's School of Medicine which demonstrated that cool water head caps provided some relief to chronic insomniacs.
The bottom line is that although Kripke and his colleagues weren't able to establish precisely why people who took sleeping pills were more likely to die, the eye-opening results of their analysis suggest that people should be cautious with such medications.
“Faithful is He who calls you, and He will also bring it to pass.” Thessalonians 5:24
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Kripke, D., Langer, R., & Kline, L. (2012). Hypnotics' association with mortality or cancer: a matched cohort study BMJ Open, 2 (1) DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2012-000850
"Beware! Sleeping Pills Can Be Deadly" copyright 2012 Living Fit, Healthy and Happy(SM). All Rights Reserved.