New Study Puts Popular Sleeping Pills to Shame
written by/ May 20, 2021
There’s hardly an American adult who hasn’t popped a sleeping pill at least at some point in their life.
As most quickly find out, dozing off under prescription medication is both easy and effective. In fact, scientific studies back this up for users taking prescription medication for up to eight months.
However, the latest sleep study suggests that taking sleeping pills for lasting sleep problems is largely ineffective.
Researchers from the Harvard Medical School and Women’s Hospital in Boston put the most popular prescription sleep medication to the test — namely, one and two years of chronic use.
The study was based on the self-reported sleep quality of over 670 ethnically diverse middle-aged women (mean age of 49.5 years) — a reasonable sample group seeing how most of the 50 to 70 million Americans with chronic sleep disorders are, in fact, older women.
As for the medication, the study included:
- Z-drugs (hypnotics)
- anti-anxiety medication
The two study groups, one that took the prescribed sleeping aids and the one that didn’t, were assessed for the following insomnia indications with a frequency of one in three nights:
- difficulty falling asleep
- waking in the middle of the night
- earlier awakenings
Now, the results showed no significant difference for the one- and two-year period, which is a huge blow on the sleeping pills’ long-term effectiveness.
Although the insomnia-induced symptoms haven’t worsened as a result of the medication, studies like these show that women are only accumulating the side effects of sleeping pills without any real long-term benefits.
So, are we better off taking natural sleep aids or over-the-counter sleeping aids for chronic disturbances? This study seems to suggest so. Yet, additional long-term studies are also necessary to confirm it beyond any doubt.
Although new revolutionary drugs are entering the insomnia market, experts believe that the one-sided approach is not enough to improve sleep outcomes, particularly in perimenopausal and menopausal women.
Overall, improving sleep hygiene, cognitive-behavioral treatment, and looking at prescription sleep aids only as short-term solutions are advised for battling chronic sleeplessness.