Have you ever been prescribed sleeping pills? Prescription medication to aid sleep during times of transient sleep loss can provide much-needed relief. They can be quite effective at helping you fall asleep, however, if misused it is very easy to become dependent on the use of the medication, either physically or emotionally.
In a 2012 study, researchers compared over 10,000 people who took sleeping pills with nearly twice as many people with similar health histories who did not take sleeping pills. It was found that those who took sleeping pills were more than four times as likely to have died during the study’s 2.5-year follow-up as those who didn’t take them. While the study shows an association between sleeping pills and death, it does not prove them as the cause. The problem may lie in overuse or activities that are undertaken while experiencing the drowsy side-effects of sleeping pills, such as driving or operating heavy machinery.
Sleeping pills are not the long-term answer to sleep problems and should only be used for short periods of time because of tolerance to the drug and the risk of dependency. It is important to follow the advice given to you by your doctor. Also, never take sleeping pills when travelling on aircraft. As tempting as it can be to take them to help you sleep on the plane, they effectively immobilise you, increasing the risk of DVT dramatically due to blood pooling, usually in the lower part of the body. Click on some of our older blog posts below the best tips to battle jet lag without sleeping pills: