In some cases, individuals may take prescription sleeping pills to help them get to sleep at night. The types of prescription sleep pills available can be grouped into three categories: medications that help people fall asleep, medications that help people stay asleep, and sedating antidepressants. Individuals may be prescribed a sedating antidepressant if they have insomnia and anxiety or depression.
While prescription sleeping pills may help individuals fall asleep, they do carry several risks that people should be aware of. First, some medications are contraindicated for individuals with certain health conditions.
In the sedative antidepressants, amitriptyline is not recommended for individuals who are recovering from a heart attack and trazodone is not recommended for individuals with a history of high blood pressure. Individuals with a history of substance abuse may not be prescribed eszopiclone or temazepam, which are sleeping pills that help individuals stay asleep.
Besides have significant contraindications, sleeping pills may also have an increased risk of death and cancer in chronic users, according to new research. The study followed more than 10,500 people who had underlying health conditions and used prescription sleeping pills for around 2.5 years between 2002 and 2007. The average age of the participants was 54 years old.
HealthDay reported that "those who were prescribed up to 18 doses a year were 3.6 times more likely to die than their counterparts who were prescribed none, while those prescribed between 18 and 132 doses were more than four times as likely to die... those taking more than 132 doses a year had five times the risk of dying compared to those prescribed none."
In addition, the study found that individuals taking higher doses of these prescription sleep medications have a greater risk of certain cancers. These cancers include prostate cancer, lymphoma, esophagus cancer, colon cancer and lung cancer.
Certain sleeping pills are linked to these increased risks, which include eszopiclone, zaleplon, temazepam, barbiturates, zolpidem and sedative antihistamines.
So what should someone do if she is taking one of these prescription sleep medications? In the HealthDay report, professional responses varied. Some stated that chronic use of prescription sleeping pills should be avoided, while others feel they are safe and effective when used under the direction of a physician as a component of a comprehensive treatment plan.
Always take prescription sleeping pills as directed by your physician. You can also try other methods to promote good sleep, such as daily exercise, avoiding caffeine, and not napping during the day.