I went to my family physician for a routine physical last week. I hadn’t had one in a while, so I decided to get the exam and requisitions for the usual blood work.
This doctor is one whose opinions I respect. But I never hesitate to speak up when information I have leads me to question those opinions. One topic we’ve had discussions about is insomnia and sleeping pills.
Sleeping pills usually tarnish with age. Zolpidem (Ambien), approved for the treatment of insomnia, is no different.
But a new study from Stanford suggests that low doses of zolpidem may help people recover more quickly from stroke. Here’s the gist of that study, published on December 18 in Brain, and what post-marketing studies tell us about zolpidem used for insomnia.
Holiday weight gain may not be so hard to reverse for people who eat at conventional mealtimes.
Night eaters, though, have trouble taking off weight. Night eating syndrome is a diagnosis given to people who typically consume at least 25% of their daily calories after dinner and/or during nighttime awakenings. It’s also associated with disrupted sleep.
Sour date seed has been used as a sleep aid in China and other Asian countries for over 2,000 years. The seed of a small tree called Ziziphus jujuba Mill var. spinosa, sour date is used alone or in combination with other herbal medicines to relieve insomnia and anxiety.
In the early 1990s, word was spreading that Halcion, a popular short-acting sleeping pill prescribed for insomnia, was a dangerous drug. Not only did it make users anxious, depressed, and suicidal.
It was also implicated in a series of murders. Sales of Halcion plunged. Today the drug is still on the market but is rarely prescribed.
Now zolpidem (Ambien) is receiving intensive post-marketing scrutiny, raising questions about the drug’s safety.
Antidepressants have been prescribed as de facto sleeping pills for over 3 decades now. This used to bother me. Most antidepressants have not been tested on people with simple insomnia and shown to improve their sleep.
These days I see things differently.
A friend recently called to talk about insomnia. Her problem, she said, was that she couldn’t sleep past 3 a.m. Her doctor recommended taking melatonin and she wanted to know what I thought of this advice.
If you’ve got the type of insomnia where you wake up too early or too frequently (sleep maintenance insomnia), you may be interested in this update.