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Sleep Pills May Do More Harm Than Good in Elderly

Reuters reported on November 11, 2005 on a study in the British Journal Of Medicine which found that the benefits of sleeping pills like Restoril and Ambien were not worth the side effects and potential adverse consequences of using them in people over 60. The researchers said something which I have believed and said for some time and that is, behavioral approaches and psychotherapy are more effective with fewer risks.

Compared with placebo, sedative use was associated with statistically significant improvements in sleep quality, total sleep time, and the number of nighttime awakenings, Dr. Usoa Busto, from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, and colleagues note. However, the actual improvements were modest in scope.

Several adverse effects were more common with sedative hypnotics than with placebo, Busto's group reports in the British Medical Journal. Sedative use greatly increased the odds of thinking difficulties and daytime fatigue.

The likelihood of an untoward event was even greater in subjects who were at high risk for falls or mental impairments, the report indicates.

"Although the improvements in sleep variables obtained from prescription hypnotics are statistically significant ... the clinical benefits may be modest at best," the authors conclude. Behavioral therapies may be a better option for older people with insomnia, they add.

Link: MedlinePlus: Sleep Pills May Do More Harm Than Good in Elderly.

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