3 reasons why sleeping pills may not be the answer to good sleep

There are plenty of reasons people can't sleep at night. Stress from work or family life, noisy neighbors, or an illness keeping you awake are all reasons many insomniacs may reach for the sleeping pills. While popping a pill may bring temporary relief, it could be doing much more harm than good in the long run. Here are three reasons why sleeping pills may not the answer to a good night sleep.

You could become dependent on drugs

A sleeping pill is just that — a drug. Not only are there side effects that could interfere with your daily (and nightly) life, you may develop a tolerance that makes your body need to take more and more to enable the sleeping aids to work, in turn leading to even more side effects. And, according to a Wei-Shin Lai, MD, if you become dependent on sleep aids, when you try to go to sleep without them, you may experience withdrawal symptoms, and become anxious and unable to sleep, causing you to cycle back to taking the drugs. Additionally, nighttime sleep aids can interact with other medicines, potentially causing serious interactions.

You could be masking a more serious problem.

Many serious medical illnesses and mental disorders interrupt sleep patterns. If you continually relieve insomnia with sleeping pills, you could be masking a more serious underlying condition. Before you ask your doctor for a sleep aid prescription, it may be a good idea to ask for a thorough physical that may uncover another cause for your insomnia that can be properly treated.

Sleeping pills can kill you, literally

A recent study in Australia found that people who take sleeping pills were more prone to traffic accidents than drunk drivers. Those who take sleeping pills encounter a moderate impairment as an after effect of medication, causing them to be more at risk for traffic accidents. Another recent study (https://www.scripps.org/news_items/4169-scripps-study-finds-higher-death-risk-with-sleeping-pills) at the Scripps Clinic Viterbi Family Sleep Center, in La Jolla, Calif. showed a link between sleeping pills and a higher risk of cancer and death. According to the study, patients who took sleeping pills were more than four times as likely to have died during the study's 2.5-year follow up as those who didn't take the drugs. In the same study, researchers found that those taking the highest doses were 35 percent more likely to have developed a major cancer, not including melanoma, during that period.

So before you start a sleeping pill, consider the many effects they may have on you and your body and instead explore more natural, easy ways to fall asleep without the consequences.

If you are currently taking a sleeping pill, especially one prescribed by your doctor, do not stop without consulting your doctor. Talk to you doctor about the risks and benefits to continuing any medication.

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