Is This Popular Drug Putting You at Risk for a Nighttime Tumble?
Feeling a bit wobbly when you get out of bed? Your sleeping pill could be to blame. A recent study found that the popular sleep drug zolpidem (you may know it by the brand name Ambien) causes balance problems in a considerable number of users.
In fact, according to the paper published in the most recent edition of the Journal of the American Geriatric Society, 27% of young adults and a shocking 58% of older adults will experience significant balance issues while on the drug.
And the news just gets worse from there. Users are not only at a much greater risk for falls because of the balance impairment but also more than two times as likely to have issues with their cognitive function while on the drug.
Frighteningly, when scientists woke up after two hours of sleep volunteers who were given Ambien, the drugged participants were unable to randomly add numbers. In addition, when they were given a balance test similar to the ones given for drunk driving, the participants who had passed the test before taking the drug were no longer able to pass it.
The results of the study should be enough to give anyone pause before popping his next sleeping pill. But since our risk of nighttime falls rises right along with our age if you’re an older adult on a sleep drug theses findings are likely to be downright alarming. In fact, when you consider that nighttime falls account for about 30% of hospitalizations for those over the age of 65, that may be enough for you to decide to swear off the pills forever.
Oh, and did I mention that Ambien is the same drug that’s been tied to eating, engaging in sex, or even driving a car without having any memory of it the next day?
Of course, a lack of quality sleep is damaging to our health as well…ironically, insomnia alone can put you at a greater risk of falling…so it’s important to find an alternative treatment for your sleeplessness that brings you all the results without the dangerous side effects. Check out HealthierTalk.com contributor Dr. Casey Adam’s advice in Natural Solutions for Insomnia for some great tips on foods and supplements that can help you get a good night’s sleep.
And remember, the no-fail cure for insomnia is the realization that it’s time to get up.
Reference: "Influence of Zolpidem and Sleep Inertia on Balance and Cognition During Nighttime Awakening: A Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial," Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, Volume 59, Issue 1, pages 73–81, January 2011
About the author
An enthusiastic believer in the power of natural healing, Alice has spent virtually her entire 17-year career in the natural-health publishing field helping to spread the word.
She is an advocate of self-education and is passionate about the power of group knowledge sharing, like the kind found right here on HealthierTalk.com. Alice loves to share her views on holistic and natural healing as well as her, sometimes contentious, thoughts on the profit-driven inner workings of traditional medicine.
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