I am a neurologist treating disorders of brain, spinal cord and nerves. I like educating public and doctors about various aspects of neurological illnesses. This blog is an attempt towards the same. I work at Apollo Hospitals, (Jubilee Hills and Kukatpally branches), Hyderabad (phone-0091-40-23607777/60601066/9618204512; firstname.lastname@example.org)
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Wednesday, February 24, 2016
SLEEPING PILLS AND HEALTH HAZARDS
SLEEPING PILLS: Pills for
Blissful Sleep or Early Deaths?
(sedatives and hypnotics) are commonly used (and abused) by the general
population. About 6-10% of adults use prescription sleeping pills. The usage of
sleeping pills is higher among women and overweight people. Usage also
increases with increasing age and in those with pain or depressive illness.
inability to get normal sleep) is cited as the commonest reason to use sleeping
pills. A normal adult requires 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Sleeping pills
help increase the number of sleeping hours providing bliss to people with
insomnia. But is this bliss coming at a cost? Are there any health hazards
associated with sleeping pill usage? The current article is aimed at finding
out the risks and hazards of sleeping pill usage.
Do sleeping pills lead to more deaths?
have shown that use of sleeping pills is associated with higher death rates. In
a large study published in British medical Journal in 2012, more than 10,000
people who used sleeping pills were compared to about 24,000 people who did not
use sleeping pills. They were followed up for 2.5 years. The hazard of death
was three times more in people prescribed as little as 1-18 sleeping pill tablets
per year. The hazard for death increased with higher number of prescriptions
per year, and it was five times more for those using greater than 132 doses of
sleeping pills per year. This increased risk of death was seen with older
benzodiazepines (such as alprazolam, lorazepam, diazepam) as well as newer
agents (such as zolpidem and eszopiclone). The comparison was done after
accounting for smoking, obesity and other risk factors that could contribute to
In another study
from UK, about 35,000 patients who were prescribed sleeping pills were compared
to about 70,000 people who were not prescribed sleeping pills (control group).
They were followed up for a mean duration of 7.6 years and death rates were
compared between the two groups. In the first year, twice as many deaths occurred
in the “sleeping pills” group as compared to the “control” group. After excluding
deaths in the first year, there were approximately four excess deaths linked to
drug use per 100 people followed for an average of 7.6 years after their first
Sleeping pills and cancer
In a large study,
the risk of cancer increased by 35% in people who were prescribed sleeping
pills, as compared to those without sleeping pills. This puts “use of sleeping
pills” as risky as “smoking cigarettes” said, study leader Daniel F. Kripke.
Sleeping pills adversely affect work output
cause drowsiness and hang over and affect the performance in work the next day
too. Concentration is impaired and memory loss may be seen.
Sleeping pills and falls
Sleeping pill use
is linked to falls in elderly, which is an important cause of fractures in
Sleeping pills increase the risk of road traffic
Use of sleeping
pills lead to increased road traffic accidents. This is because it hampers the
attention and concentration ability.
prove that sleeping pills are unhealthy and dangerous. Long-term use of
sleeping pills has never been studied in people and should be discouraged. If
sleeping pills are used at all, it should be for a short period of a few days
and with extreme caution.
Dr Sudhir Kumar MD
City, Hyderabad Email: email@example.com