Sleeping pill use has increased exponentially since 2003, but are we aware of the effect they have on us?
The medical community have become increasingly wary of the tiny pills linked to a number of celebrity overdoses due to their side effects ranging from memory loss to death, even when taken as prescribed. Here is everything you need to know about sleeping pills.
How many people take sleeping tablets?
Firstly, we need to consider the rise in insomnia. In Australia in 2016, symptoms of insomnia were present in 20% of adults: 23% in women and 17% in men. As 1/5th of the population struggles with insomnia, it’s no surprise they turn to the medical community for assistance, namely prescription sleeping tablets.
In Australia in 2016, the Sleep Health Foundation found an increase in people reporting sleeping difficulties at least a few times per week, particularly in young adults aged 18-34. Prescribed sleep medications were found to be used by 5% of people a few nights per month, and by 8% most nights.
Looking overseas shows the same pattern. Between 2002 and 2007, use of NBSH (Nonbenzodiazepine Sedative Hypnotics) such as Stilnox and Ambien increased from 6 million to 16 million in the USA and in 2017 4% of Americans depended on sleeping pills to get to sleep.
Sleeping pill-induced sleep isn’t restorative like natural sleep
You need your beauty sleep, and that’s partly due to the restorative effects sleep has on all your cells from skin cells to nerve cells. Real sleep is a series of stimulation and relaxation of different areas of the brain, all cleverly enacted in a delicate process.
Sleeping pills don’t work in the same way though. They target the brain cells in your cortex and turn them off. Essentially, sleeping pills make you unconscious, rather than put you to sleep.
Real sleep is associated with cell regeneration, rest and development of the brain; quite the opposite of being unconscious.
Do sleeping pills work?
Not really. A new study shows they’re not nearly as effective as you think. Sleeping pills are barely more effective than placebo, and the quality of sleep is inferior to that of normal sleep. This means that a sleeping pill will knock you out for the night, but you won’t wake up as refreshed as after a night of quality natural sleep, and your cells won’t restore and regenerate overnight at the speed they would during normal sleep.
Are sleeping pills safe?
Sleeping pills have been proven to lead to serious health issues ranging from increasing the risk of cancer and heart disease to decreasing your ability to create and recall short term memories and progressive Alzheimer’s. In general, sleeping pills have been shown to increase mortality in users.
If you’re considering sleeping pills, get in touch and chat to us about the other ways you can improve your sleep.