I had put this article in a media madness post with lots of other articles. I realized I needed to highlight it. So sorry for those of you who see it twice in the same day. People need to know what they are often, casually popping into their mouths. What is called sleeping pills here are also used for anxiety and are the benzodiazepine (Valium, Klonopin, Ativan, Xanax, etc) classes of drugs.
Jerry Siegel, Ph.D.: Are Sleeping Pills Good For You?
This is about benzos and the Z-drugs (Ambien, Lunesta, Zopiclone, Sonata etc) that are related to benzos. Yeah, they’re all fraught with problems.
Most sleeping pills are taken to relieve insomnia. According to several epidemiological studies, people with insomnia either do not have any marked shortening of lifespan relative to those reporting normal sleep or actually have a somewhat increased lifespan (see my prior blog “How Much Sleep Do We Actually Need”). — Many cases of insomnia are linked to depression. However, studies in which insomnia subjects were randomly assigned to either placebo or benzodiazepine sleeping pills, reported that the rate of depression was doubled in those who took sleeping pills (6). Suicide rates are increased in those who had taken hypnotic mediations (7). Benzodiazepines were reported to have caused 3.8 percent of all deaths by drug overdose (8). Other troubling consequences of sleeping pill use are memory problems, falls, aggressiveness, and confusion. Sleepwalking, sleep eating and driving while not fully awake are common side effects (9, 10). Those taking sleeping pills can be expected to feel a short term relief from insomnia when they first begin taking the pills. However, short term usage frequently leads to chronic usage and dependence (11). — The most troubling consequence of chronic sleeping pill is an apparent reduction in lifespan in chronic sleeping pills users relative to those reporting equivalent insomnia who did not take sleeping pills. Chronic sleeping pill use might be roughly comparable to cigarette smoking in its effect on lifespan. The life shortening effect of chronic sleeping pill usage has now been reported in at least 12 studies published in respected peer reviewed publications. Two studies have reported no effect of hypnotic usage on lifespan. No study has reported any lifespan or overall health benefit of chronic sleeping pill usage, which is striking considering that so much of the research on sleeping pills is funded by the drug companies producing them. (read the rest here)
Go here for a collection of information and resources on benzodiazepines.