Per Journal Watch, here's the latest on sleeping pills. Although the relationship between these pills is only correlational (not thought to be an actual CAUSE of death), I would avoid taking them as much as possible. Most sleep medications approved by the FDA (ie, Tylenol PM, ambien, benadryl, etc) and alcohol suppress REM sleep (deep, restorative sleep) causing you to feel even more sleepy and get less of the much needed "dreaming" sleep you're trying to achieve.
The higher mortality by people taking sleeping pills discussed in this paper may be due to the fact that people taking sleeping pills often suffer from multiple other medical problems. This, in turn, increases their risk of death and disease. Despite this possible explanation for the study's findings, I recommend erring on the side of caution.
Try high-quality, evidence-based supplements like chamomile, melatonin and valerian root. Now If only insurance companies would reimburse doctors for teaching sleep hygeine and would cover the cost of these supplements...if only...
"Even Infrequent Use of Sleeping Pills Linked to Increased Mortality
Adults who take hypnotics for insomnia even less than 20 times a year might face increased mortality risk, according to a study in BMJ Open.
Using a rural health system database, researchers matched more than 10,000 adults who used hypnotics with nearly 24,000 nonusers. The most commonly used hypnotics were zolpidem (e.g., Ambien) and temazepam (e.g., Restoril). During 2.5 years of observation, 6% of hypnotic users and 1% of nonusers died.
After adjustment for comorbidities, hypnotic use was associated with an elevated risk for death, with risk increasing with the number of doses used. However, even adults who took just 0.4 to 18 pills per year had a significantly increased mortality risk compared with nonusers (hazard ratio, 3.6). In addition, use of more than 18 pills per year was associated with increased cancer risk.
Asked to comment, Dr. Peter Roy-Byrne, editor-in-chief of Journal Watch Psychiatry, said, "While a provocative finding, it is hard to conceive of a mechanism that would account for increases in mortality with just a handful of sleeping pills taken annually."
BMJ Open article (Free)"
Dr. Maltz earned a Medical Degree and Master in Public Health from the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) in Galveston, TX. She completed a combined Internal and Preventive Medicine Residency at UTMB in June, 2011. She then completed a 2-year Integrative Medicine Fellowship at Stamford Hospital in Stamford, CT, during which she simultaneously underwent an intensive 1000-hour curriculum created by The University of Arizona Integrative Medicine Program founded by Dr. Andrew Weil.