UNC Health Care
a bottle of sleeping pills and an alarm clock

The Hidden Dangers of Sleeping Pills

People who take sleeping pills may be getting the benefits of a restful night’s sleep-but they may be getting more than they bargained for. New research shows that people who take prescription sleep aids regularly may increase the risk of early death and certain types of cancer.

The study, which tracked more than 10,500 people, compared the risk of death among people who took sleeping pills and those who didn’t.Those who took at least 18 doses were most at risk, with a risk of death four times higher than people who didn’t take sleeping meds. Those taking the highest doses were also at greater risk of developing several types of cancer, including colon, esophagus, lymphoma, lung and prostate cancers. To learn more about this study and its findings, read ‘Sleeping Pills Linked to Raised Risk of Death, Cancer: Study’ on the U.S. News & World Report website.

To sleep sans medication, talk with you doctor and try these tips:

  • Work out. Exercising for at least 20 minutes every day will help you fall asleep faster. Finish your workouts at least three hours before bedtime to give your body time to relax.
  • Man and dog sleeping soundly in the morning
    Better options for good sleep than sleeping pills

    Be consistent. Getting up and going to bed at the same times every day (even on weekends) strengthens your body’s internal clock.

  • Get into the groove. Create a relaxing habit to do every night before bed like writing in a journal, taking a bath or reading.
  • Get up. If you’re still awake after lying in bed for 30 minutes, get up and do something relaxing like listening to music or reading. Go back to bed when you feel tired again. Try to rise at your usual time.

Video: ABC11 visits the Sleep Labs at Rex to investigate sleep disorders and learn how to create healthy sleeping habits.

Source: Dowden Custom Media. Published with permission.