sleeping pillsIt is estimated that nearly 70 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders and that 6-10% use sleeping pills and other natural remedies for insomnia.  However many people may not realize, that those who take sleeping pills, even in small quantities, quadruple their chances of dying.  Although sleeping pills can be effective at ending sleep problems short term, they can also lead to a premature death.

What are sleeping pills?
A sleeping pill is a drug used to induce sleep.  The most common sleeping pills subscribed to patients include Ambien, Lunesta, Sonata, Restoril,, and barbiturates.  Sleeping pills can be obtained over-the counter or prescribed by a physician.

Why are sleeping pills prescribed?
The most common reason for using sleeping pills is because a person suffers from insomnia-the inability to get to sleep.  There are many reasons for insomnia including stress, emotional conditions or recovering from a medical procedure.  People who work unusual shifts, or who travel across time zones are often prescribed sleeping pills to help regulate sleeping patterns.

What are the side effects of sleeping pills?
Almost all sleeping pills have some side effects such as drowsiness, dizziness, constipation, blurred vision and dry mouth and throat.  More serious side effects can include: impaired judgment, depression and heart problems.  In fact, several studies have shown that those who take sleeping pills had a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers such as lung, colon, and prostate cancers.

Possible mixed drug overdoses, impaired motor skills and sleep apnea also increase the risk of death.  Sleeping medication, even if taken occasionally, can be hazardous to your health and can even reduce the quality of your sleep.

What should I do if I currently take sleeping pills?
If you currently are taking sleep medication, consult your physician and re-evaluate whether an underlying medical or sleep disorder can be found and treated without the aid of sleeping pills. You may have to get checked using a Thinklab stethoscope for diagnosis.

If you need sleeping pills, they should only be taken over a short period of time because of tolerance to the drug and the risk of dependency. It’s essential to work with your healthcare professional to monitor any potential side effects so that your sleep medication doesn’t shorten your life.