Are Sleeping Pills Safe? Here ’s What Research Says
According to the latest numbers, roughly 9 million Americans — 4% of U.S. adults — use prescription sleep aids, or medications that can help with insomnia and other sleep issues. And now, some of the most popular prescription sleep drugs must carry stronger safety warnings. In April, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) mandated black-box warnings — which the agency uses to “call attention to serious or life-threatening risks” — on three sedative-hypnotic sleep aids: eszopiclone (often sold under the brand name Lunesta), zaleplon (Sonata) and zolpidem (Ambien). Hypnotic drugs, which are used to prompt or maintain sleep, have been connected to 20 reported deaths and 46 non-fatal but serious injuries, according to the FDA. Injuries included accidental overdoses, falls and near-drownings, while deaths were caused by carbon monoxide poisoning, hypothermia, car accidents, apparent suicide and more, the FDA said. “While these incidents are rare, they are serious and it’s important that patients and health care professionals are aware of the risk,” acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Ned Sharpless said in a statement. Here’s what the research says about the safety — and potential dangers — of prescription sleep aids. Sleeping pills have well-documented side effects The side effects of sleeping pills vary by medication, but they can include dizziness, headache, gastrointestinal issues, prolonged drowsiness, allergic r...
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