“Sleep and death are brothers” goes the ancient Greek proverb. Hypnos, the god of Sleep, and his brother Thanatos, the god of death, were “children of the night” — born of Nyx, the goddess of night.
Now researchers at the Scripps Clinic have confirmed the strong relationship between death and sleep, in modern times. Prescription sleeping pills can triple your death and cancer risk.
Researchers at Scripps Clinic analyzed electronic medical records from between 2002 and 2007 for a control group that averaged 2.5 years of hypnotic drug use. Data analysis concluded that those using prescription drugs to aid in sleep experienced triple a risk of dying. This held true even for those ingesting fewer than 18 pills in a year!
The Scripps Clinic study published in the BMJ Open concludes:
“Receiving hypnotic prescriptions was associated with greater than threefold increased hazards of death even when prescribed <18 pills/year. This association held in separate analyses for several commonly used hypnotics and for newer shorter-acting drugs. Control of selective prescription of hypnotics for patients in poor health did not explain the observed excess mortality.”
For people taking more than 132 pills in a year, the risk from death increased 6 fold AND the incidence of new cancers tripled. This applied to all age groups studied, 18 years and older.
The most popular medications, Ambien and Restoril, were thought to be the least hazardous because of their short duration of action. But, in this data analysis, Ambien and Restoril were the most popular drugs but showed the same risks as other drugs.
Day to day stress often affects sleep. About 6-10% of Americans were prescribed drugs to help them nod off in 2010. The most popular were Ambien and Restoril. In the United States, sleep-associated prescription drug use increased 23% expansion between 2006 and 2010, representing $2 billion in annual sales for pharmaceutical companies. This now appears to be at the cost of patients long term health.
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