Do you have the habit of taking sleeping pills? Are you under the impression that what you are doing is completely fine? If that is the case, stop right there.
By taking sleeping pills, you are damaging your health in ways you could have never imagined. Sleeping pills have a number of side effets. This post talks about some of the most dangerous of them.
Would you like to know more? Go ahead and read!
Before going to the side effects of sleeping pills, let’s first understand that sleeplessness (the reason behind people taking sleeping pills) can be caused by a number of factors. These factors are:
- Taking stimulants like caffeine before hitting the bed
- Excessive nicotine intake
- Job pressure and insecurities
- Relationship problems
- Shifting jobs that interfere with the natural sleeping cycle
To induce sleep there are many options, but a lot of people opt for the quick fix solution, which is taking sleeping pills. Clinically, they are called sedative hypnotics and examples include barbiturates and benzodiazepines.
Sleeping pills seem to be the easiest way to doze off, but they can also cause serious troubles in the long run. Like many other medications, these drugs can prove to be harmful to your health. The risks and side effects can be severe when you use them improperly and in the long term. However, the severity of side effects can vary from one person to another, and they are dependent on the number of pills being taken, compounds used in the pills, and the health of the user, etc. Prescription and OTC sleeping pills can have different effects on the users, as it has been seen (1).
Serious Side Effects Of Sleeping Pills
1. Your Body Develops Resistance To Them
A lot of women and men battle insomnia by using sleeping pills, and they seem to work well initially. However, things change after a time. Your body develops resistance to the effect of the pills when you keep using them for a long time.
After a while, you realise that taking the pills is not helping you fall sleep. This might even force you to resort to a sleeping pill overdose, which can have a fatal outcome.
2. Parasomnia/Erratic Behaviour Patterns
Some sleeping pill drugs can cause Parasomnia, which is a semi- conscious state that can make people sleepwalk or suffer from amnesia. Affected people can do a lot of other things while sleeping and on waking up they cannot recall anything. This can prove to be risky at times.
Some people who take sleeping pills tend to get more affected by the drugs than others. They may still feel sleepy when they wake up in the morning, and the sensation can persist for some time (2). Drowsiness while driving can be quite risky. This can also happen when they have to wake up earlier than usual for some reason. Needless to say, it negatively affects your efficacy at the workplace.
4. They May Become Addictive
Some women and men find it quite tedious to sleep without taking sleeping medications once they become habituated to these drugs. This is what doctors refer to as rebound insomnia. You may need medical intervention once this withdrawal symptom happens. It is worse than general sleeping problems.
5. Sleeping Pills May Lead To Heartburn
Is getting a good night’s sleep worthwhile if the next day suffer from heartburn? Those who are already afflicted with GERD may fare worse. Studies have suggested that using specific types of sleeping pills can enhance the risk of acid reflux in users. A study carried out at the Philadelphia’s Thomas Jefferson University Hospital showed people, using the popular sleep pill zolpidem, actually sleep through periods of acid reflux rather than waking up. It can cause damage to the oesophagus in the long run.
6. Risk Of Early Death And Cancer
A University of California study conducted a couple of years ago indicated that using sleeping pills can shorten your lifespan. The study findings published in the journal BMJ Open showed that people increase their risk of dying with the amount of sleeping pills they take. Not only that, relying on sleeping pills can also make you more susceptible to developing cancer, the study authors found. Popular hypnotic sleeping pills like Restoril and Ambien were said to be risky.
The elderly lot can face memory loss related problems if they take sleeping pills for long (3). A study has indicated that elderly people who take sleeping pills for over 3 months can be vulnerable to developing Alzheimer’s disease, a degenerative disorder. The researchers said Benzodiazepine was the most potent drug for this.
8. Allergic Reaction
This is something a few people face, but it is not unheard of as such. This can happen when your body is allergic to some compounds present in the sleeping medication you are taking. Allergic reactions include breathing problems and serious facial swelling (4).
9. Interaction With Alcohol
Some sleeping medications, when taken with or after drinking alcohol, can accentuate the effects of both (5). As a result, after waking up you feel quite groggy and far from well.
10. Change In Behaviour
Those who become addicted to using sleeping pills may sometimes display irritability. Many also complain of mood swings.
Alternatives To Sleeping Pills:
After knowing the many side effects that can be caused by sleeping pills, you may feel like trying safer and alternative remedies to battle sleeping problems! In fact, you can try out many alternative methods that have fewer or no side effects on your mind and body. Those are:
- Yoga postures
- Meditation techniques
- Change in the bedroom setup including lights and other elements of distractions(6)
- Trying sleep-inducing foods
- Soothing music
At times, you may still have to resort to sleeping medications, especially when alternative methods fail to yield the desired results. However, make it a point to consult with the doctor beforehand. A doctor can assist you regarding selecting the aptest drug for your sleeping needs and guide you on the right dosage too. This will surely help you stay away from the harmful sleeping pills side effects.
Do let us know how this post has helped you. Please comment in the box below!
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