The recommended daily average night’s sleep is just over 8 hours, but only 35% of Americans are getting their rest. With these kind of statistics, it’s no wonder we turn to sleeping pills as a way to try to reverse insomnia; however, one study published by the British Medical Journal has shown that pharmaceutical sleeping pills prescribed by your doctor can lead to an increased death threat of up to 4 times. It also found that those prescribed sleeping pills were more likely to develop cancer.
Electronic medical records of over 35,000 patients were surveyed to find a statistical baseline for this claim, and it was found that even those who took FDA approved medications as few as 18 times per year were still negatively affected. Prescription drugs that are supposed to help us sleep like Ambien, Restoril, Lunesta, and Sonata can actually harm us.
Some argue that those who take sleeping pills and suffer from insomnia already have an underlying health condition, aside from stress, which is causing them to have sleepless nights. A family practice physician at Cleveland Family Medicine, Dr. Scott Nelson said, “I think the underlying conditions which may require sedative-hypnotics are the culprits, not the medicines themselves,” however it is also a known fact that sedation causes sleep apnea. (Here are some herbal sleep remedies to help treat insomnia and sleep apena.)
This can interrupt the body’s natural rhythms of sleep and waking, and cause long-term hormonal imbalances that are only worsened with ongoing use of pharmaceutical drugs. Dr. E. Cuyler Hammond at the American Cancer Society conducted his own studies on patients taking sleeping pills and found that patients who took sleeping pills died 4.6 times more often than those who didn’t. Furthermore, those who took sleeping pills more than 130 times a year were 35% more likely to develop cancer. These studies were conducted back in 1975, and confirm the findings of the British Medical Journal’s currently published study.
The following drugs were found to have an especially pronounced affect on mortality in Hammond’s assessment:
- Barbiturates (esp. phenobarbital)
- Antihistamines, mainly diphenhydramine
All of the aforementioned medications lead to an increased probability of developing cancer. Another alternative for sleeplessness might be natural remedies – here are 6 natural sleep apnea treatments.
Christina Sarich is a humanitarian and freelance writer helping you to Wake up Your Sleepy Little Head, and See the Big Picture. Her blog is Yoga for the New World. Her latest book is Pharma Sutra: Healing the Body And Mind Through the Art of Yoga.