Are you one of those who pop in a sleeping pill on a regular basis to have a good night’s sleep? If yes, then it would be helpful to know the results of a study regarding the positive- link between dementia and sleeping pills, recently published in the British Medical Journal. Yes, you read that right; there is a positive link. Sleeping pills used on a regular basis increase dementia risk in the sunset years.
1063 men and women, with a mean age of approximately 78 years, who were dementia-free, and had not yet begun on any sleep medication (benzodiazepines) were studied for a period of 15 years. It was observed that risk of dementia increased by a whopping 50% in participants who had begun taking sleep medication on a regular basis. A spokesman for the Alzheimer’s Society told the Daily Mail,
This is the not the first time it has been suggested that these drugs could have a negative impact on cognition. With this long-term study adding to the evidence, it emphasizes how important it is we properly monitor how treatments for anxiety or sleep problems are used.
While, there is no need to get paranoid, it is imperative to know the risks involved in the long-term medication of benzodiazepines, which are normally given for short-term relief by doctors. Post the study results, caution should be used in prescribing it for long-term usage.
How do sleeping pills up the dementia risk? Researchers believe that benzodiazepines (sleeping pills), which stimulate a calming effect, also change the way messages are transmitted to the brain via neurotransmitters; it is this change, which is responsible for causing dementia.
So what does one do? Stop taking the sleeping pills altogether? I would say, instead of being completely dependent on medication, one can perhaps try and explore other avenues to relax and unwind. After all that is what sleeping pills do, induce a sense of calm and relaxation. Professor Tobias Kurth, who works jointly at Harvard University’s School of Public Health and the University of Bordeaux, sharing his views with the Daily Mail said,
There is a potential that these drugs are really harmful. One single study does not necessarily show everything that is going on, so there is no need to panic. These drugs certainly have their benefits and if you prescribe them in a way they should be prescribed they treat very well.
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