Study shows risk with sleeping pills; criticized conclusion – The Chart
Common sleeping pills may be linked to a shorter lifespan, according to a study published Monday in the British Medical Journal.
Researchers compared 10,500 adults who took prescription sleeping pills with people who did not. Those who took only one in 18 sleeping pills in a year had a 3.5 times higher risk of premature death than those who prescribed none. The increase quintupled for people who took three or more sleeping pills per week.
“After controlling for several factors, we saw the risk increase as the doses people consumed increased,” says Dr. Daniel Kripke, study author and psychiatrist at the Viterbi Family Sleep Center in San Diego. “The risk of death was very high, it even surprised us.”
But a sleep expert unaffiliated with the study immediately sought to debunk the findings, saying it created unnecessary confusion for consumers.
“It is inadequate to try to associate someone who has taken as little as 5 tablets per year with an increased risk of premature death,” said Dr Russell Rosenberg, president of the National Sleep Foundation and director of the Atlanta School of Sleep Medicine.
Participants in the control group did not suffer from sleep problems and the study did not control for psychiatric disorders. “Their methodology was flawed and their control groups compare apples and oranges,” says Rosenberg.
Despite the limitations, the researchers analyzed the data in several different ways, taking into account age, sex, weight and lifestyle, and the result remained the same. “More research is needed to find out exactly why sleeping pills cause premature death, but we believe the risks of taking sleeping pills outweigh the benefits,” Kripke said.
In addition to the risk of premature death, participants taking sleeping pills had higher rates of asthma, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and high blood pressure. The researchers were unable to conclude whether sleeping pills specifically contributed to the increase.
“This study, while flawed because it has a relatively small sample size and does not fully address confounding variables, reminds us that sleeping pills are not without risks and should be used with caution,” said the Dr Bryan Bruno, Acting Chairman of the Department. of psychiatry at Lenox Hill Hospital, which is not affiliated with the study. “There should be more emphasis on sleep hygiene education so that sleeping pills can be used less often and generally avoided chronically. “
If you get less than 7 hours of sleep a night on a regular basis, you are building up sleep debt which could affect your health. Cognitive behavioral therapy is more effective than medication at helping sleep, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
It is best to relax for at least 45 minutes before going to bed. If your mind is racing, it is more difficult to fall asleep. This includes avoiding stimulants like watching TV, surfing the web, talking on the phone, or even cleaning your house. Try reading a book or magazine until you feel drowsy.
“If you can’t fall asleep in 20 to 30 minutes, get out of bed and do something boring in the dark until you feel drowsy,” suggests Kripke.
Also, sleep in a dark space. This is especially important for people who work shifts that require them to sleep during the daytime hours. The contrast between light during the day and dark at night helps control your body’s natural rhythms and will help you sleep longer. Buying “blackout” blinds or even using dark trash bags on windows can help.
“There are no perfect solutions that can be applied to everyone who has trouble sleeping,” says Rosenberg. “But treatment can be personalized based on a person’s work schedule and lifestyle. “
See a sleep doctor if you have three or more sleepless nights a week that lasts for more than a month, if you experience excessive daytime sleepiness, or if you snore loudly.