Sleeping pills linked to 460 percent increase in sudden death

Tuesday, March 06, 2012 by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer
Tags: sleeping pills, sudden death, risk

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(NaturalNews) If you take pharmaceutical sleeping pills to help alleviate insomnia, you are very likely putting yourself at serious risk of developing cancer or even dying. A new study published in BMJ Open, an open-access journal that is part of the British Medical Journal family of publications, suggests that patients who take various benzodiazepines, non-benzodiazepines, barbiturates and sedative antihistamines for insomnia are 4.6 times more likely to die, on average, within two-and-a-half years than those who do not take these drugs.

Researchers from the Jackson Hole Center for Preventive Medicine in Wyoming and the Scripps Clinic Viterbi Family Sleep Center in California evaluated and analyzed data on more than 33,000 patients for their study, of which nearly one third were taking sleeping drugs like temazepam, zopiclone, zolpidem, or zaleplon for their insomnia. After adjusting for other risk factors, the team found that within roughly two years after beginning sleeping pill drug regimens, one in 16 sleeping pill patients died, while only one in 80 patients not taking these drugs died.

Depending on how often insomnia patients took their sleeping drugs, the overall death risk was as much as 530 percent higher than the death rate for non-users, which clearly illustrates a definitive and causal link between sleeping pills and increased mortality. And besides having an increased risk of suffering sudden death, sleeping pill users were also found to have a roughly 35 percent elevated risk of developing cancer compared to non-users as well.

"The meager benefits of hypnotics, as critically reviewed by groups without financial interest, would not justify substantial risks," said the researchers. "Rough order-of-magnitude estimates at the end of the supplemental files suggest that in 2010, hypnotics (sleeping pills) may have been associated with 320,000 to 507,000 excess deaths in the USA alone."

You can review the full study for free here:

While patients with insomnia have a number of alternative treatment options available at their disposal that do not involve dangerous hypnotic drugs, many of them are unaware of this. A 2006 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, for instance, found that simple cognitive behavior therapy is more effective than hypnotic drugs at alleviating insomnia (

There are also a number of dietary and herbal remedies that can help remedy sleeping problems, including valerian root, peppermint, chamomile, passionflower, lavender, the amino acid L-glutamine, 5-hydroxytryptophan, and the hormone melatonin, to name just a few (

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