Sleeping pills approved by the Food and Drug Administration–Ambien and Lunesta–are getting some negative press these days, and I hear more talk of using off-label medications to treat insomnia. (Off-label meds are drugs approved for the treatment of other disorders.) I’ve blogged about some of these drugs before: trazodone, clonazepam and quetiapine.
Pregabalin is another, which is now being prescribed for people with trouble waking up in the middle of the night.
I roll my eyes when I see articles about how we humans are prone to miscalculating sleep time—in particular, people with insomnia. We tend to underestimate how long we sleep, and the conclusion is often that if we knew how long we were really sleeping, we wouldn’t complain so much.
That’s not the message of the latest of these articles, written by Derek Thompson in The Atlantic. Thompson looks at how the quest to prolong sleep ties in with the use of sleeping pills—but I think his analysis falls short.
Post-marketing tests now show that Ambien and Lunesta, the most popular sleeping pills today, are not as benign as they once were believed to be. Are we moving into a period similar to that which occurred in the 1980s, when physicians moved away from prescribing sleeping pills for people with insomnia and prescribed off-label medications instead?
Like your sleeping pills? You’re not alone. About 8.6 million Americans now use prescription sleep aids, according to the CDC.
Yet as they grow more popular, I sense a move afoot to restrict their use.
Parasomnias like sleepwalking, sleep driving, sleep eating, and sleep texting make me wonder: what would it be like to wake up in my car “high-centered on a rock,” as an acquaintance said he did, or to kitchen cabinets covered with the glutinous remains of barley soup?
What happened to me a few nights ago is the strangest sleep-related experience I’ve ever had.
As if it weren’t bad enough that Ambien, a.k.a. zolpidem, can cause sleepwalking, sleep eating, and sleep driving. Now researchers are saying that America’s favorite sleeping pill increases the retention of negative memories. This is not a good thing.
Last week Dr. Oz hosted a show about “killer” sleeping pills. Now, there are lots of reasons to be cautious about sleep meds, including the fact that some leave you feeling groggy in the morning.
But when celebrities like Dr. Oz use information like this to whip up hysteria about sleeping pills, it makes my blood boil.
Let’s be honest: the holidays aren’t always easy. The whole thing can stress you out to the point where all you want to do is eat, eat, eat. But you can’t exactly indulge yourself — it would look unseemly for you to scarf down all the Christmas cookies you yourself have baked.
Who knew that the solution to these inopportune food cravings lay in Ambien, America’s favorite sleeping pill?