I have insomniac friends who swear that taking prescription sleeping pills is the only way they can get to sleep. But a new study suggests that their good night's rest might be coming at a really high price.
According to this study, adults who take sleeping pills may be nearly four times more likely to die earlier compared to those who are not prescribed sleeping pills. Even those who only take a small number of pills are at risk. And, that's not all of the bad news: People who take prescribed sleeping pills may also be more likely to be diagnosed with cancer. Now, if that's not scary enough to keep you up at night, I don't know what is ...
Here's the thing that's sort of annoying about this study, though: It only shows an association between sleeping pills and early death -- not that one causes the other. After all, many people who are prescribed sleeping pills can't sleep in the first place because they have various physical or mental health issues ... so what's to say that these people weren't already at risk?
And, many people who can't sleep are at risk for life-threatening conditions like obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. So then which is more dangerous -- the sleeping pills or not sleeping? In other words, this study is incredibly vague and could be scaring a whole bunch of people for no reason. Not cool. Not cool at all.
Experts aren't recommending that you stop using the pills just because of this study. But if you are concerned, you could perhaps talk to your doctor about alternatives to sleep medication to see if one might work for you. Some include:
-Is your bed uncomfortable? Do you tend to eat big meals or drink a lot of alcohol before bedtime? Changing your sleep environment and bedtime habits could be the keys to ending your sleepless nights.
-Natural remedies like warm milk, herbal tea, and lavender oil may be effective in helping to improve your sleep.
-Psychotherapy may help to alleviate mental issues that may be preventing a good night's rest.
-Some people claim that practicing relaxation exercises (yoga, meditation, deep breathing) is more effective than sleeping pills.
-Some studies show that exercising during the day -- specifically aerobic exercise like jogging, walking, or biking -- can not only improve sleep at night, but help you fall asleep more quickly.
Do you take sleeping pills?
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