You’ve probably heard about the side effects of prescription sleeping pills.
They can cause dependency…making it impossible to sleep without them. And they are linked to more serious problems as well, like increased risk of cancer and Alzheimer’s.1 2
But none of this stops mainstream doctors from prescribing them. More than a third of American seniors now take sleeping pills.3
Now a study finds that older people face another serious danger from sleeping pills.
Researchers at Cardiff University and Kings College in the United Kingdom reviewed the hip fracture rate for over 6,000 seniors. They found that those who took sleeping pills had a dramatically greater risk.4
Those who took the pills had a 250% higher chance of fracturing a hip during the first two weeks they were on the drugs.
As time went by, they continued to have a heightened risk. After taking sleeping pills for 30 days, they had a 20% greater risk of hip fracture than seniors not on the pills.
The risk is so high during the first two weeks because of the drugs’ “hangover” effect. Unsuspecting seniors were groggy when they got up. This made them susceptible to falling and suffering broken bones.5
Dr. Ben Carter is a senior lecturer in biostatistics at Kings College. He is lead author of the study.
He said that the pills “significantly increase the risk of hip fractures when newly prescribed by doctors…particularly in the first few days of use.”6
The study was published in the journal PlosONE.
Sleeping Pills Are a Health Nightmare
The study examined the two major classes of prescription sleeping pills: “Z drugs” and benzodiazepines.
Z drugs are so named because most of the drugs begin with Z, such as zaleplon (Sonata) and zolpidem (ambien). Benzodiazepines include alprazolam (Xanax), diazepam (Valium), and triazolam (Halcion).7
Hip fractures are not often considered with heart disease and cancer as major killers. But more than 300,000 Americans a year suffer a broken hip. About 30% of them will die within a year.8
And those who survive often lose the ability to live independently. They end up in assisted living or nursing homes.9
5 Safe and Natural Sleep Aids
There is no reason to use prescription pills. Besides the grave dangers, they quickly become ineffective.
Natural sleep aids are safer and work better. Melatonin is probably the one you’ve heard of most. But it really only works to beat insomnia caused by jet lag.10
Instead, try these sleep supplements:
Tart Cherry: In one clinical trial, a group of insomniacs got an extra hour and 25 minutes of sleep a night while drinking tart cherry juice. It helps your body produce more melatonin naturally, which is safer than taking it as a supplement. Beware of tart cherry juice with added sugar. Instead, look for a powdered extract supplement.
Valerian Root: Researchers think it works by releasing GABA in the brain. GABA is a neurotransmitter that boosts mood and has a calming effect on the nervous system.
Passionflower: Multiple studies show that passionflower can help you fall and stay asleep, preventing “short” or “shallow” sleep.
L-Theanine: Human research has shown that 200 mg of L-theanine creates a sense of relaxation about 40 minutes after ingestion.
5-HTP: Psychology Today notes that supplementing with 5-HTP “supports a neurochemical process that can enable high-quality sleep and keep the body’s bio clock in sync.”
Editor’s Note: Insomnia is just one more thing that plagues us as we get older. But recent studies show that the symptoms of aging can be treated…or eliminated.